Despite Israel's numerous efforts to encourage the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership to return to the peace talks, the PA continues to boycott negotiations and to incite against Israel and praise terrorists.
Among the incidents that indicate an upsurge in incitement in the past month, are the official sponsorship of the naming of a Ramallah square after a terrorist who slaughtered 37 Israelis and the glorification of the murderers of the late Rabbi Meir Avshalom Chai, killed on 24 December 2009 in a drive-by shooting.
This incitement is occurring despite the fact that the current Israeli government, like previous governments, has made great efforts to advance peace. Time after time, it has declared its commitment to peace and its willingness to make the necessary compromises to reach that goal. It has also undertaken numerous acts, such as a moratorium on settlement housing construction, that tangibly demonstrate its commitment to negotiations while improving the lives of Palestinians living under the control of the Palestinian Authority. Additionally, like all Israeli governments, it invests a great deal of effort into educating for peace.
The requirement for the Palestinians to end incitement has constituted one of the core foundations of the peace process since its inception. The need to end incitement stems from the recognition that true peace cannot be achieved as long as the propagation of hate continues. As Prime Minister Netanyahu noted (10 January): "Peace is made by educating towards reconciliation, by encouraging good neighborly relations and by developing mutual respect."
Incitement not only pushes peace farther away, it also jeopardizes Israel's security. Words can be dangerous. Hero-worship of terrorists and their despicable acts - which has transpired not only in the past but in recent days - inspires further violence.
Anti-Israeli incitement, including by the highest-ranking Palestinian officials, also persists in official Palestinian media outlets and in the educational system.
The last week of 2009 provides a regrettable sample of Palestinian official incitement. In one short week, incitement increased, terror attacks were carried out both inside and outside the pre-'67 lines, and condemnation of the terrorist attacks by the PA was conspicuously absent.
Following is a short summary of the most egregious events of the last week of December 2009:
• Veneration of a mass-murdering Palestinian terrorist:
On 29 December, PA President Mahmoud Abbas funded and sponsored a ceremony celebrating the memory of Dalal al-Maghrabi. She was the terrorist responsible for the Coastal Road massacre in 1978 in which 37 Israelis were murdered within the pre-67 "Green Line". During the ceremony - one of many held in her honor - dignitaries sang her praises and children marched in honor of this murderer's 50th birthday. For quite some time, the PA has strived to turn this female terrorist into a role model for young Palestinian children. Indeed, two high schools for girls, a computer center, children's summer camps and a square in the Ramallah area have all been named for her.
• Expressions of support for the murderers of Rabbi Chai:
On 24 December, Rabbi Meir Avshalom Chai was shot to death while driving in his car. Even though members of the PLO's own Fatah faction took responsibility for the shooting attack, PA officials saw no reason to denounce the attack or even to express their condolences to his wife and seven children. Incredibly, PA President Abbas sent a representative to pay his condolences to the families of the terrorists (who were subsequently killed while resisting arrest) and to declare them shahids (holy martyrs). Abbas even had letters sent to their families on his behalf to console them and praise the murder these terrorists carried out.
In a further outrageous act, the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Salam Fayyad personally visited the families of the terrorists, accompanied by a delegation of dignitaries which included PA government ministers and the Chief of the Palestinian Police, all the while condemning Israel's attempt to apprehend the terrorists.
• Fatah calls for armed "resistance" over peace negotiations:
Fatah, which is headed by President Abbas, issued a statement on its official website following the Rabbi Chai murder which called for the continuance of the "armed struggle" by Fatah and all the other factions. It declared "resistance," and not negotiations, "as the primary option for liberating Palestinian lands from the filth of the children of Zion [Jews]." This announcement, and others like it, receive the support of the leaders of the movement, including members of the Palestinian Authority leadership.
The continuation of incitement by the PA leadership constitutes a serious violation of the Palestinians' international obligations and calls into question their commitment to peace. It is manifestly clear to all parties interested in promoting peace in the region that the cessation of incitement is an essential condition for achieving a genuine peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Israel calls upon the Palestinian leadership to stop the incitement and to return to the negotiating table.