On Sunday, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat furiously objected to Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s wish for a “plague on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian people.” Erekat claimed it was, “an absolute insult to our efforts to progress the peace process,” and even described it as a call for “Palestinian genocide.”
In principle, Erekat is right to object to this poor choice of words and thoughtlessness. Such callous remarks are inexcusable, especially from a rabbi as revered as Yosef and doubly so at a time when Israel seeks to re-launch peace talks with the Palestinians.
But if we step back and focus on the Palestinians and the context in
which Erekat objected to Yosef’s remarks, the hypocrisy of the situation
begins to surface. Palestinians have long been obligated under all
previous agreements to end incitement against Israel.
Leading Palestinian figures have been making “insulting” remarks for
years and the Palestinian Authority under President Mahmoud Abbas has
continuously supported efforts to delegitimize Israel, promote violence,
glorify terrorists and deny Israel recognition as the Jewish state.
The official PA newspaper, Al- Hayat Al-Jadida, and official PA TV, has
long reprinted and aired, respectively, Hadiths calling for Jewish
annihilation and referring to Jews as wild animals.
Earlier this month, former PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei declared in an
interview with leading Arabic newspaper Asharq al- Awsat, that
resistance is still an option.
The PA has consistently backed efforts to delegitimize Israel, which
included support for the misguided UN Goldstone Mission as well as
several initiatives in the UN General Assembly essentially denying
Israel’s right to security.
The PA has repeatedly glorified terrorists. Numerous kindergartens,
schools and summer camps are named after various “martyrs.” Over the
past year alone, at least two dozen events and locations under
Palestinian Authority control were named after Dalal Mughrabi, a
terrorist who hijacked a bus in 1978 and murdered 37 people including
children in what became known as the famous Coastal Road Massacre.
IN MARCH 2010, when US Vice President Joe Biden visited Israel, the
world watched in glee as Israel approved the tentative building of
housing units in Gilo causing tension with the US. While Nabil Abu
Rudeineh, a spokesman for the Palestinian government complained about
Israel’s “provocation” and “peace-destroying behavior” the Palestinian
Authority was busy making plans to name a Ramallah square after
Textbooks published by the Palestinian Authority show maps that
completely erase the State of Israel, replacing the area instead with
“Palestine.” Palestinian Authoritysponsored TV broadcasts programs about
“occupied” cities such as Haifa, Lod and Ramle. This type of incitement
completely erases the Jewish historical connection to the land of
Israel and revises the true history and context of the Arab- Israeli
For years, Erekat himself has been at the forefront of efforts to
criticize Israel. After the Israeli incursion into Jenin in 2002 to weed
out terrorists and in an interview with CNN on April 12, Erekat accused
Israel of “war crimes” and committing a “massacre” – all of which was
proven to be false. He made the same false claims to CNN in 2004 during
another army operation, this time in Gaza.
Last year, after the removal of numerous checkpoints and roadblocks in
the West Bank following Netanyahu’s speech at Bar-Ilan, in which he
declared his acceptance of a demilitarized Palestinian state alongside
Israel, Erekat accused him of sabotaging the peace process.
AND NOW, with proximity talks in Washington looming, Palestinian
Authority officials, specifically Abbas and Erekat, are tripping over
themselves trying to protect themselves from potential US pressure by
attempting to place the yoke of responsibility on Israel.
“If the Israeli government decides to announce new tenders on September
26, then we won’t be able to continue with the talks” Erekat exclaimed.
Abbas chimed in quickly, “Israel will be held accountable for the
failure of the talks if settlement construction should continue.”
Surely, Erekat could not have forgotten the years of Palestinian
incitement and terror indoctrination that have hindered any such talks.
It was only last year that Abbas himself said, “The ‘Jewish state.’ What
is a ‘Jewish state?’ We call it, the ‘State of Israel.’ You can call
yourselves whatever you want. But I will not accept it.”
While Erekat and others complain about Yosef’s “absolute insult,” they
should recall the numerous “insults” the Palestinian Authority has
hurled at Israel over the years.
Incitement is not one-sided.The writer is deputy news editor of The Jerusalem Post.