Israel “has no problem” with the re-creation of a joint Israeli-Palestinian-
American working committee to deal with incitement and has relayed this message
to the US administration, a senior government official said Tuesday, signaling
that Israel has reversed its position on the matter.
PA President Mahmoud
Abbas, in an interview last week on Israel Radio following the murders in
Itamar, denied that there was incitement in the Palestinian Authority and
suggested reestablishing this committee that met briefly more than a decade ago
to monitor incitement.
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Abbas’s comments came after the government waged
an aggressive campaign following the Itamar attack against incitement in the PA
media and textbooks, claiming there was a direct link between the incitement in
the PA and the type of terrorist atrocities committed in Itamar.
of reestablishing the committee was raised by the Palestinians and the Americans
during the few days of direct negotiations between the sides last September, but
was not embraced by the Netanyahu government.
The Israeli position has
been for some time that a committee isn’t needed to deal with the incitement,
and that all that is really needed is for the PA – which controls its media
apparatus and the textbooks – to take measures to stop it. Fighting incitement
was seen in Jerusalem as a Palestinian obligation that the PA simply needed to
carry out itself, without the need for a bureaucratic mechanism that would end
up involved in endless debates about what is and what is not
A joint Israeli-Palestinian committee on incitement was set
up in 1998 under US auspices. The Israeli team was led by the late journalist
Uri Dan, who was a close confidant of Ariel Sharon, and the Palestinian side by
Yasser Arafat’s spokesman Marwan Kanafani. Sharon was the country’s foreign
minister when the committee was established. With little – but continuous
arguments – to show for its work, the committee disbanded after about a
Itamar Marcus, a member of the Israeli team at the time and today
the head of Palestinian Media Watch, an NGO that monitors the Palestinian media
and text books, said Tuesday he thought reestablishing the committee was a good
“The biggest hindrance to peace is Palestinian hate promotion,
incitement to violence and deligitimization of Israel,” he said. “Having that
exposed on a regular basis would be an important step toward creating a peaceful
Speaking in Tel Aviv on Tuesday night, Palestinian
Authority Foreign Minister Riad Malki blamed the dormant status of the committee
The Palestinians have repeatedly asked Netanyahu to reactivate
the bilateral committee against incitement, Malki said at an event sponsored by
the Peres Center for Peace.
“I never stopped asking all the foreign
diplomats who come to see me in my office to intervene with the Israeli side in
order to reactive this anti-incitement bilateral committee,” he said.
is important for the Palestinians to work together with the Israelis to end
incitement, Malki said. “Otherwise we will lose control; and the moment we will
lose control, this will be disastrous for us,” he said.Tovah Lazaroff
contributed to this report.