Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that the current wave of violence against Israelis would be a lot worse if Palestinian soldiers had not intervened.
"Our security forces go into the schools to search pupils' bags and see if they have knives. You don't know this," Abbas told Israel's Channel 2 television. He said in one school, soldiers found 70 Palestinian boys and girls carrying knives.
"We took the knives and spoke to them and said, 'This is a mistake. We do not want you to kill and be killed. We want you to live and for the other side to live as well.' "
Abbas said the violence was being caused by what he said was a lack of trust and faith in a two-state solution for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
He said he was willing to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "at any time" and that the violence would stop if peace talks resumed.
More than six months of Palestinian violence in Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank has killed 28 Israelis, two Americans and an Eritrean. At least 188 Palestinians have died at the hands of Israeli police and soldiers while trying to stab Israelis or run them over with cars.
Israel has accused Palestinian leaders of inciting young Palestinians to riot and not speaking out forcefully enough against the violence.