Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that he was willing to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to try to end a recent surge of violence but said Abbas must stop issuing what he called lies about Israel.
"I'd be open to meeting with Arab leaders and the Palestinian leadership in order to stop this incitement and set the record straight," he said.
Specifically, Netanyahu is demanding that the Palestinians stop spreading rumors that Israel intends to take over the East Jerusalem holy site that Muslims call the al-Aqsa Mosque and Jews call the Temple Mount.
The prime minister also has blasted Palestinians for what he calls the "new big lie" that Israeli security forces are executing Palestinian terror suspects. He said Israel was doing what any government would do in dealing with "people wielding knives, meat cleavers, axes, trying to kill people on their streets."
At the center of the accusation is a Palestinian boy named Ahmed Mansara, 13, who stabbed two Israelis Monday in Jerusalem.
Television pictures showed the terrified boy lying in a street, bleeding from the head with his legs twisted after being run over by a car while trying to escape. Some bystanders yelled at police to shoot the child and let him die.
Abbas accused the Israelis of executing the boy. But Israel released a video Thursday showing Ahmed sitting up in a hospital bed with his head bandaged, eating a snack and being treated by Jewish doctors.
Netanyahu said such provocative comments had incited the wave of Palestinian stabbings and other attacks that have killed seven Israelis and wounded more than 20. Thirty-one Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers and police.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry plans to head to the Middle East soon in an effort to restore calm and give peace talks another chance.
He said Thursday in a speech at Indiana University that attacks on innocent civilians going about their business were "tragic, outrageous and unjustified." But he said it was critically important that calm be restored as soon as possible.
Palestinians are frustrated by continued Jewish settlement in the West Bank, which they want as part of a future state. Many are also unhappy with Abbas. They regard him as weak and a reason why the chance of a two-state peace deal has become more and more remote.
Israel has deployed hundreds of soldiers across the country to help police meet the threat of Palestinian attacks.
The Israeli Security Cabinet has given police permission to seal off Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem where many of the attackers have come from. Police have also put up roadblocks in Palestinian areas of East Jerusalem and say the property of "terrorists" will be confiscated and their permanent residency rights will be revoked.
Israel's internal security chief, Gilad Erdan, said Wednesday that the bodies of Palestinians killed for attacking Israelis would not be returned to their families. Erdan said they did not deserve the "respect" of a proper burial. He said Palestinian funerals often become "an exhibition of support for terror and incitement to murder."