Netanyahu Says Palestinians Need To 'Come To Grips With This Reality'

Dec 11, 2017
Originally published on December 11, 2017 12:11 pm
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Here are some signs of tension after the United States recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel - a security guard was attacked, Israelis found a tunnel leading from the Gaza Strip into Israel and the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, told other world leaders to accept what the United States has said about Jerusalem. NPR's Peter Kenyon reports.

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PETER KENYON, BYLINE: Israelis with grim faces gathered at the central bus station in Jerusalem Sunday afternoon as the police cordon went up. Police say a 24-year-old Palestinian from the West Bank was arrested for stabbing a security guard - the first such attack since Trump's announcement. The guard was reported to be in serious condition. Dozens of Israelis have been killed in seemingly random, lone wolf attacks in recent years. As large-scale protests were staged in many parts of the Muslim and Arab world, Prime Minister Netanyahu traveled to Brussels. European officials say the American move to recognize Jerusalem is likely to further diminish the chances of resolving a long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Israeli prime minister says it opens the door for a U.S.-led peace effort. Sunday, Netanyahu sparred with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris. Macron criticized Trump's Jerusalem announcement and called on Netanyahu to halt new Jewish settlement construction as a good faith gesture. For his part, the Israeli leader said Jerusalem has always been the Israeli capital, adding, quote, "the sooner Palestinians come to grips with this reality, the sooner we will move towards peace." Netanyahu also fired back at one of his sharpest critics, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had called Israel an oppressive occupation state.

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PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: I'm not used to receiving lectures about morality from a leader who bombs Kurdish villagers in his native Turkey, who jails journalists, who helps Iran go around international sanctions and who helps terrorists, including in Gaza, kill innocent people. That is not the man who is going to lecture us.

KENYON: The Palestinian Authority is calling for protests to continue this week, leading up to what it hopes will be a huge protest in Ramallah on Friday. The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday announced the destruction of what it called a terror tunnel reaching from the central Gaza Strip into southern Israel. Officials say new technology has made it easier to detect tunnels, but the announcement reminded Israelis of the ongoing threat of attacks.

The Palestinians have also responded to Trump's announcement diplomatically, saying Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas will refuse to meet Vice President Mike Pence when he visits the region in the coming days. Peter Kenyon, NPR News, Jerusalem.

(SOUNDBITE OF FEVERKIN'S "CALENDAR PROJECT: JANUARY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.