Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas arrives for the opening of a museum of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Ramallah, November 9.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas must be held accountable for inciting violence against Jews, a senior American Jewish leader declared Thursday.
Speaking with The Jerusalem Post, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations executive vice chairman Malcolm Hoenlein stated he believes that the disorder that has gripped Jerusalem in recent weeks, subsequently spreading to Judea and Samaria, can be traced back to both PA incitement and the failure of authorities to respond to less severe incidents, emboldening those perpetrating violent attacks.
While not the only, or even the primary, factor contributing to the increase in violence against Jerusalem residents, dubbed the “car intifada” by some Palestinians due to the use of cars as weapons against crowds of pedestrians, some of the blame for what is currently happening can be traced by to the “police failure to respond effectively” to the ongoing desecration of graves on the Mount of Olives and recurring stoning attacks against Jewish drivers in the vicinity, he asserted.
“The more tolerance that is shown toward these kind of incidents,” he said, “[the more it] invites them to expand those activities.”
Hoenlein has been outspoken on the issue of the ancient Jewish burial ground, hand-delivering a note to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last year in which he decried violence by east Jerusalem Arabs against Jewish visitors at the site, at which graves are regularly found to have been overturned or smashed.
Repeated entreaties by Abbas and the Palestinian media for Muslims to prevent Israeli “settlers” from entering the Temple Mount, to “desecrate” the holy site are clearly meant to incite, Hoenlein said. “The incitement and the raising the tensions and the implicit calls to violence that we’ve heard obviously play a critical role.”
The Palestinian media has praised the perpetrators of several of the recent attacks, including Moataz Hejazii, who shot Yehudah Glick, a proponent of Jewish prayer rights on the Temple Mount, outside of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center last month.
While the government has placed cameras on the Mount of Olives, tougher steps, including increased prosecution of perpetrators and the holding parents of minors who commit crimes accountable, should also be taken, he asserted.
“The US has made some statements on it but there has to be an accountability. Abbas is never held accountable and here you see the direct calls that he has made and indeed...calls to violence. Certainly the incitement was blatant and clear.”
Arab use of the Temple Mount as propaganda to whip up tensions has a long history, preceding the establishment of the Jewish state, he said.
Hoenlein blamed the Palestinians for “denying the Jewish connection and identity” of sites such as Rachel’s Tomb and the Western Wall. The PA has claimed that the wall is the site at which Muhammad hitched his horse when visiting what is described in the Koran as the “farthest mosque,” while denying its provenance as part of the Temple Mount.
“They understand that if you take away our past you take away our future,” he commented, recalling a visit to the site while it was under Jordanian control, describing it as “really disgusting.”
“People urinated on the wall,” he said.