A bipartisan letter circulating in the Senate calls on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to detail steps the U.S. is taking to end Palestinian incitement against Israeli civilians. The letter is in response to Friday’s stabbing massacre of five members of a Jewish family in the West Bank settlement of Itamar.
“Palestinian incitement includes the glorification of terrorists and jihad, and anti-Semitic stereotypes in the Palestinian media,” reads the letter written by Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, a Democrat and Mark Kirk of Illinois, a Republican. A copy of the letter was obtained by The Jewish Week.
The letter details examples of incitement listed by the Israeli Prime Minister’s office, including a March 9 speech by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ advisor, Sabri Saidam.
“Saidam reportedly demanded that the Palestinian people be attentive to the living conditions of martyrs’ families and said that the anniversary of the death of Dalal Mughrabi (one of the perpetrators of a 1978 coastal highway massacre) should be marked by inaugurating a square in her name in the city of El-Bireh,” wrote the senators.
They also noted reports that on Feb. 9, the PA-controlled television station broadcast a clip from a campaign entitled "Women as Exemplars," in which Mughrabi was extolled. In another example cited, the governor of Jenin on January 24 issued a $2,000 grant to the family of a Khaldoun Samoudi, who was killed while trying to detonate two bombs against Israeli soldiers at the Beka’ot Crossing.
“Although President Abbas has expressed his sorrow over the Itamar massacre, the Palestinian Authority must take unequivocal steps to condemn the incident and stop allowing the incitement that leads to such crimes,” wrote Gillibrand and Kirk. “Educating people toward peace is critical to establishing the conditions to a secure and lasting peace.
They also called on Clinton to consider promoting “training and educational programs in the West Bank and Gaza that promote peaceful coexistence with Israel. “
As a New York senator, Clinton often spoke out about Palestinian incitement, even calling on the U.S. to condition aid to the Palestinian Authority on its progress in ending "propaganda and hateful rhetoric."
Also on Thursday, a bipartisan pair of congressmen wrote their own letter to President Barack Obama to encourage him not to let the Middle East peace process fall by the wayside as world events, including the uprising in Libya and the disasters in Japan, command attention. The letter calls on the White House to pressure the Palestinians to return to negotiations
"We are sure that you share our disappointment in President Mahmoud Abbas’s decision to withdraw from peace talks in October of last year and his stubborn refusal to reengage as a willing partner for peace with Israel," wrote New Jersey Democrat Steve Rothman and Ohio Republican Steve Austria. "The continued intransigence of the Palestinian leadership is both hurtful to the prospect for a two-state solution and to a final resolution of the conflict that still plagues the Israeli and Palestinian people."