(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – The House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday debated and passed a resolution that would condemn the Palestinian Authority for “anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement.”
The non-binding resolution, drafted by Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida) and Congressman Ted Deutch (D-Florida), lists a host of statements from PA leadership made since 2013 that its authors consider inflammatory. Noting that the Oslo II agreement, signed in 1995, forbids such rhetoric, it condemns PA President Mahmoud Abbas for praising the killers of Israelis as “heroes,” for labeling Jews a “contaminating” presence on the Temple Mount (Haram al-Sharif) and for encouraging bloodletting in Jerusalem.
The resolution urges Abbas and PA officials “to discontinue all official incitement and exert influence to discourage anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement in Palestinian civil society” and directs the State Department “to regularly monitor and publish information on all official incitement by the Palestinian Authority against Jews and the State of Israel.”
In a hearing on the matter on Thursday, the chairman of the committee, Ed Royce (R-California), said the international community – and the United States – has a responsibility to contend with a “deep-seated hatred” against Israel.
“It doesn’t help when those in the media – or the secretary of state for that matter – give this incitement a pass,” Royce said. “Yes, there are many complexities in the Middle East, but there can be no moral equivalency when children as young as two are being stabbed.”
The hearing, titled “Words Have Consequences: Palestinian Authority Incitement to Violence,” featured testimony from Elliott Abrams of the Council on Foreign Relations, Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and David Makovsky, formerly of the State Department and now with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Royce’s Democratic counterpart, ranking member Eliot Engel (D-New York), said it was “heartbreaking” for him “to wake up seemingly every morning to a new report of a stabbing or a shooting of an innocent civilian in Israel.”
“These are innocent civilians who have had no role whatsoever in anything, and it’s terrorism pure and simple when you go and just stab somebody or make them afraid that you’re going to harm them when they’re just innocent civilians in the street,” Engel said. “That is not anything that should in any way, shape or form, be condoned.
And there is no moral equivalency.”
Also on Thursday, two top congressmen on the House Appropriations Committee sent a letter to Abbas warning him that US aid to the PA was at stake should he continue issuing or stoking such rhetoric.
“We implore you to refrain from highly inflammatory language and to redouble your efforts to uphold nonviolence,” read the letter, written by Kay Granger (R-Texas) and Nita Lowey (D-New York). “As you are well aware, any US assistance generously provided by the American people to the Palestinian Authority is predicated on the PA’s adherence to the precepts of the Oslo Accords as well as countering terrorism and the incitement of violence.
“The Government of Israel has repeatedly vowed to maintain the status quo at the Temple Mount,” the letter continued. “Therefore, any suggestion to the contrary only serves to provoke aggression and spread distorted rhetoric among the Palestinian people.”