The Palestinian Authority is in total control of its media, and if it wants to stop incitement it can do so and does not need to reconvene a US-Israel-Palestinian committee to deal with the issue, government officials said Wednesday.
The comments followed reports that Israel rebuffed a Palestinian proposal on January 20 to reconvene the Tripartite Committee on Incitement that was established in 1998, but has not met in years.
The Palestinian proposal, which is raised periodically, followed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s censure of the European Union in mid-January for slamming Israel over announcements of construction in the settlements, but not protesting similarly against ongoing Palestinian incitement.
“The issue of incitement is totally in the PA’s control,” one official said.
“They have total control; there is no free and independent media. For instance, you can’t say anything bad about Abu Mazen [PA President Mahmoud Abbas] in the media. This is just a matter of them taking decisions to eliminate the phenomenon.”
The official said that if the committee were reconvened, the Palestinians would use it to claim that Israel was also engaged in incitement and would “park the issue.”
“We need action, we don’t want to park this issue,” he said. “We need the Palestinians to stop naming public squares after murderers, and putting terrorists on pedestals.”
On Monday the PLO Negotiations Affairs Department issued a statement saying, “The problem of incitement is an issue which is sadly not uncommon in situations of conflict.
“Where it genuinely exists, it remains the firm conviction of the State of Palestine that incitement should be an issue that is addressed seriously by both parties. It should not be used as a tool for propaganda purposes or to divert attention away from other matters.”
The statement said that several studies by Palestinians, Israeli and international experts have concluded that “the issue of Palestinian incitement is vastly exaggerated, and that incitement exists just as firmly on the Israeli side.
“If Israel feels it has genuine concerns about incitement, then PM Netanyahu should not hesitate to accept the resumption of the Tripartite Committee on Incitement.”