Palestinians seek U.N. help to stop Israeli raids

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TEL AVIV, Israel -- Palestinians asked the United Nations for assistance in halting Israel's weeklong campaign of arrests and airstrikes following the suspected kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also communicated with the U.N., telling Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon he opposes efforts to help Hamas receive money from Qatar to pay its employees in the Gaza Strip. Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman wants to expel U.N. envoy Robert Serry, Mr. Ban's Middle East envoy from Israel over efforts to transfer $20 million to Hamas from Qatar, Channel 2 television reported, without saying where it got the information.

Mr. Serry, in a statement, rejected the allegations about the Qatari money. He said it was "disheartening" to have his integrity challenged.

"We view Serry's behavior very severely," ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said, without addressing the content of the TV report. "Strong decisions will be called for."

Israeli forces continued raids in the West Bank early Saturday, entering 146 homes and arresting 10 members of the Hamas movement, according to an army spokesman who spoke on condition of anonymity, required by military rules. Troops also shut down 15 social-welfare organizations that Israel says are being used as fronts for Hamas, which Mr. Netanyahu has accused of kidnapping the youths.

"The international community, including the Security Council, cannot continue to fail to act to hold Israel accountable for its flagrant breaches of the law," Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour wrote in a letter to Mr. Ban that was emailed to reporters Saturday. Inaction by the U.N. has only emboldened Israel and "bolstered its impunity," according to the letter.

Hamas, which agreed this month to resolve a seven-year rift with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas by supporting a joint government, is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the U.S. and European Union.

Mr. Netanyahu's office said in a text message that the prime minister spoke with Mr. Ban during the weekend and told him Israel had clear evidence that Hamas was responsible for the kidnappings. He also said the government opposes the transfer of funds from Qatar to Hamas.

The U.N. responded in a statement that Mr. Serry "was approached by the Palestinian Authority if he could be of assistance in the issue of payment of salaries in the Gaza Strip." It said the U.N. "would only act in assisting this matter with the approval of all the stakeholders in this issue, including Israel."

Israeli authorities, including the defense ministry unit responsible for administrative dealings with Gaza, were kept fully informed on this matter, the U.N. said.

Yaakov Perry, the former chief of the Shin Bet security agency who sits in Mr. Netanyahu's cabinet as science minister, told Israel Radio that the army's actions were "measured, calculated, well-planned and done properly."

Mr. Abbas will travel to Russia this week for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin said Friday. Peace talks brokered by the U.S. ended in April after eight months.


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