Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) attends a meeting of the Likud party in the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Shurat Hadin – Israel Law Center on Sunday threatened to sue Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the government if he does not shut down incitement by the Palestinian Authority that it complains is being broadcast via Israeli airwaves.
Under the 1990s Oslo Accords, the government allocated broadcast frequencies to the PA for radio and television network broadcasts.
“The problem of murderous incitement by Palestinian groups and individuals against Jews has become epidemic,” the NGO wrote in a letter to Netanyahu both as prime minister and in his capacity as communications minister.
“Much of this incitement has come directly from Palestinian leaders and is broadcast on official PA television and radio... Such incitement has played a major role in encouraging... Palestinian terrorist attacks against Jews and Israelis over the last seven months,” it continued.
Shurat Hadin noted that the 16-year-old Palestinian, whose name is under gag order, who murdered mother of six Dafna Meir at her home in Otniel on January 17, said that Palestinian television motivated him to carry out the attack.
The letter describes Netanyahu recently enlisting “French President Hollande’s assistance in having French broadcasts of the Al-Aksa channel [belonging to Hamas] taken off the air, that the IDF closed Islamic Jihad’s radio station in Ramallah due to incitement,” and that the government is taking other similar actions against incitement.
Quoting the prime minister in a statement he previously made to the cabinet, the NGO said that the issue is not about “freedom of the press, but about halting incitement to murder.”
It complained that the government has fought incitement inconsistently, permitting the PA to continue its use of its broadcast frequencies “in violation of the PA’s commitments to refrain from and to prosecute incitement and in violation of international law.”
Shurat Hadin said the material being broadcast by the PA constitutes incitement to genocide under the International Criminal Court’s Rome Statute because it “directly and publicly incites others to commit genocide.”
In other words, it accused Israel of effectively facilitating PA incitement to genocide against its own Jewish citizens.
Citing recent precedent for prosecuting such incitement, Shurat Hadin pointed out that top television and radio officials in Rwanda were sentenced to decades of prison for war crimes for incitement to murder during the country’s mid-1990s civil war.
While there were convictions for incitement in Rwanda, incitement cases in the ICC and elsewhere are hard to win, as it must be shown to have been active, not just indirect. Many incitement cases in Rwanda were dismissed as concerning only distasteful hate speech.
The letter concludes that if the government does not shut down the PA frequencies, the NGO will file “legal action without further notice.”
There was no response by the Prime Minister’s Office by press time.
The option most likely open to Shurat Hadin would be a petition to the High Court of Justice, though it is hard to see the court taking the prime minister to task for failing to combat incitement against Jews.