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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday he is willing to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in order to subdue the spate of deadly street violence that has gripped the region.
"I think it's potentially useful because it might stop the wave of incitement and false allegations against Israel," Netanyahu said. "I'd be open to meeting with Arab leaders and the Palestinian leadership in order to stop this incitement and set the record straight."
But Netanyahu made it clear that he will not allow the Palestinians to "fit a false template on reality" to explain why the attacks have been occurring.
According to Netanyahu, some Palestinians are provoking the call for bloodshed in two ways: by falsely claiming the rules for how people can worship at the al-Aqsa mosque — a holy site to both Muslims and Jews — have changed, and by saying Israeli police are executing innocent civilians.
"It doesn’t wash," Netanyahu told reporters. "I expect our friends around the world to look at these facts, recognize them for what they are, and to condemn these Palestinian attacks and to demand" that Abbas "restore calm."
Abbas has ignited an uproar in Israel after saying Israel had "executed" a 13-year-old Palestinian boy, Ahmed Manasrah, who is actually recovering in an Israeli hospital.
The boy, who was run over by an Israeli vehicle after involvement in the stabbing of an Israeli boy, has become the center of heated, high-level dispute between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders — reflecting the abyss between them after a monthlong spike in deadly violence.
Abbas said in a televised speech late Wednesday that Israel is engaged in the "summary execution of our children in cold blood" and wrongly claimed that Manasrah was among those killed. Netanyahu swiftly accused Abbas of "lies and incitement."
The case has become a lightning rod for both sides, as they trade accusations in an increasingly charged atmosphere. Netanyahu has repeatedly alleged that Abbas is inciting Palestinians to violence against Israel, a claim denied by the Palestinian leader. Abbas says Israel has been using excessive force against Palestinians.
In the past month, eight Israelis were killed in Palestinian attacks, most of them stabbings. During the same period, 31 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, including 14 identified by Israel as attackers, and the others in clashes between stone-throwers and Israeli troops.