The cabinet on Sunday spent two hours discussing incitement and the “culture of hate” in the Palestinian Authority, as part of a strong government push to put Palestinian incitement squarely on the international agenda.
“This is a very grave phenomenon,” said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, reiterating a theme he stressed Thursday during a statement to the press he made alongside US Secretary of State John Kerry.
“True peace cannot exist without stopping the incitement against Israel and educating for peace,” he said. “The refusal of the Palestinians to recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish People and declare the end of national demands – this is the root of the conflict. This is also the reason why we are insisting on significant security measures, so that we will be able to defend ourselves by ourselves in any situation.”
Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, whose ministry puts together a periodic “incitement index,” said that “we must not ignore the fact that the Palestinian educational system and media, under the patronage of Abu Mazen [PA President Mahmoud Abbas] and during the negotiations, are educating and inciting – on a daily basis – for the destruction of the State of Israel.”
Not all the ministers, however, agreed that this issue should come to the cabinet, and a sharp disagreement took place between Steinitz and Hatnua ministers Tzipi Livni (Justice) and Amir Peretz (Environmental Protection).
“Incitement exists on both sides,” Peretz said. “On our side it exists without the backing of the authorities, but it exists.”
He said he did not understand why Steinitz was bringing this to the cabinet, and that the findings just demonstrated the degree to which there was a need to separate from the Palestinians.
Livni, heading the negotiations with the Palestinians, said that the incitement was indeed grave, but not a reason to avoid working toward a settlement.
“The Palestinian incitement is horrible, especially educating children to hate,” she said. “Therefore I don’t understand those here who don’t want a diplomatic agreement and two nation states, but rather to give citizenship and the right to vote in the Knesset [to the Palestinians]. Our responsibility is to do and to act, and not only to complain about our bitter fate and that they hate and incite against us.”
Steinitz is scheduled to present the findings of the index to the international media on Monday.
According to the briefing provided to the ministers, incitement against Israel and the Jewish people is continuing in Palestinian educational and religious frameworks, as well as on official media channels and by bodies very close to Abbas.
Not only has the incitement not decreased during the current negotiations, but it is actually on an uptick, and employs Nazi imagery, including the image of Hitler, the ministers were told.
One official said that pushing this issue is a counterbalance to the Palestinians constantly complaining about settlement construction. The Palestinians always say that the first stage of the road map calls for an end to new settlements, the official said.
“Well, it also calls for the Palestinians to deal with incitement. We have taken out settlements since the road map, they have done nothing on incitement.”
The ministers were told that the incitement had four main messages: • That Israel has no right to exist, certainly not as the state of the Jewish people, which in any case has no link to the Holy Land.
• The disappearance of Israel is inevitable and will happen soon.
• Jews are subhuman creatures and must be dealt with accordingly.
• All forms of struggle, including terrorism, are legitimate in order to realize the final goal.