Israel has complained to the US administration that the Palestinian Authority's President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad are engaging in incitement by honoring a woman responsible for the worst terrorist attack in Israel's history, and calling the men who killed Rabbi Meir Avshalom Chai last month martyrs.
Israel's complaint came, ironically, shortly before US Middle East envoy George Mitchell heaped praise on Fayyad and Abbas Wednesday night during a US television interview.
Twice during the interview, on the Charlie Rose show, Mitchell called Fayyad an "impressive leader" and said that he and Abbas represented "strong and effective leadership for the Palestinian people."
Israel, in direct calls from the Prime Minister's Office to the White House and the State Department, has complained about both men.
The complaint against Abbas had to do with his sponsorship in late December of a ceremony celebrating the 50th birthday of Dalal Mughrabi, the terrorist who directed the 1978 Coastal Road Massacre, the worst terrorist attack in the country's history, where gunmen hijacked a bus and murdered 37 people, including 10 children. Mughrabi was killed during the attack.
On her recent birthday, the governor of Ramallah named a town square after her. A huge banner at the ceremony read, "Under the auspices of President Mahmoud Abbas, The Political and National Education Authority Ceremony on the anniversary of the birth of the bride of the cosmos, the shahida [martyr] Dalal Mughrabi."
Israel's complaint against Fayyad stemmed from his visit to the families of the three slain terrorists suspected of killing Chai near Shavei Shomron three weeks ago. The three men were killed by IDF soldiers on a raid meant to apprehend them.
Fayyad, according to what Israel told the Americans, referred to the men as martyrs.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's policy director, Ron Dermer, said in response that "those Palestinian terrorists are murderers, not martyrs. We expect the PA to prepare the Palestinian people to live in peace with Israel and not glorify killers and name public squares after them."
Mitchell, in the TV interview, also heaped praise on the PA security apparatus, saying its security forces were "outstanding by any measure. The Israelis are very, very open in their praise of the effort that's been made on Palestinian security."
One senior Israeli diplomatic official, however, said that while the PA security apparatus has been effective in apprehending Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives, because this was in their interest, it has taken a much weaker approach against terrorists coming from within Fatah - such as the three men who killed Chai.