The Palestinian Authority has slipped 7.1 points on a governmental index which measures its incitement against Israel.

The scale, in which the further away from a positive number the measurement becomes the more aggravated the level of incitement, dropped from -30.19 last year to -37.18, according to government officials. The index was presented to the security cabinet for the first time on Wednesday morning.

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The index was developed in 2009 by officials from various ministries including the Defense Ministry under the auspices of Vice Premier and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud).

The index has focused on four key points: violence; support of violence and terror; demonization and incitement to hatred; and preparation for peace.

It uses these points to measure statements made by Palestinian leaders and textbooks used in PA schools, as well as the Palestinian media and Internet.

For example, said a government source, it’s problematic that Palestinian officials have referred to terrorists who killed Israeli athletes in Munich during the 1972 Olympics as national heroes.

In a statement he released to the media, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that the index was important because “Achieving an historic peace with the Palestinian people requires a change of approach by the authority and recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Just as in Israel there is no rejection of the other side, so too do we expect the Palestinians to act and to educate for peace.”

Israel plans to share this index, along with supportive data, with the United States, members of the Quartet and other international leaders.

A government official told The Jerusalem Post that under the Road Map, Palestinians had an obligation to stop incitement against Israel. The source added that it was important that Palestinian leaders more effectively prepare their population for peace through education.

Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch, an advocacy group that monitors the Palestinian media, said incitement has increased since peace talks resumed in September.

Marcus said Palestinian officials have recently claimed that Israel spreads AIDS in Palestinian territories, and his most recent report cites an example of a TV host describing the port city of Jaffa as “occupied area in the occupied territories.”

He also pointed to a Palestinian TV show in May showing children singing “I want to carry a machine gun and a rifle. I won’t care about you, my enemy, or about the West. And we shall strike Israel, we shall strike Israel.”

PA spokesman Ghassan Khatib dismisses Israeli efforts to monitor incitement, saying Israel “cannot set the definition of incitement unilaterally and then apply it to our side.” He said for the matter to be addressed fairly would require “either a neutral body or both of us [to] agree on what incitement is – and then it has to apply to both societies.”

PA President Mahmoud Abbas has acknowledged that there have been problems in the past, but said he is dealing with the issue. “I can’t deny that some of our people make incitement [sic]. We want to eliminate this. We have to work on it,” he told a group of Jewish American leaders during a trip to the US in September.

Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian lawmaker, called the initiative “another Israeli attempt to draw attention away from the [peace] talks.” She argued that “there is incitement and discrimination on the Israeli side” as well.

AP contributed to this report.

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