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Netanyahu: Abbas responsible for safe return of kidnapped settlers

June 14, 2014 10:16 P.M. (Updated: June 15, 2014 5:14 P.M.)
TEL AVIV (AFP) -- Israel holds President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority responsible for the safety of three settlers snatched from the West Bank, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday.

"I have ordered ... to demand from the Palestinian Authority, headed by Abu Mazen (Abbas) -- from whose territory the kidnappers came -- to do whatever necessary to help the hostages get home safely," Netanyahu said at a press conference at Israel's Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv.

"That is the Palestinian Authority's responsibility."

"Our boys were kidnapped by a terror group, undoubtedly," Netanyahu added, according to the Israeli news site Ynet.

"We are in the midst of a massive operation to find and return the three missing youths," Netnayahu told the press conference.

Israeli soldiers were deployed heavily in the Hebron district Saturday in a search for three missing teenagers presumed kidnapped from near the Gush Etzion settlement bloc.

A spokesperson for the PA security forces said Friday that the PA was "not responsible" for protecting settlers.

Adnan Dmeiri said he was unaware of any cooperation with Israel in the search for the settlers, adding that the area from which the settlers are thought to have been kidnapped is under full Israeli control.

Eyal Yifrach, 16, Gilad Shaaer, 19, and Naftali Frenkel, 16 disappeared Thursday night.

Ma'an staff contributed to this report.
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