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Reps. Steve Rothman (D-NJ) and Steve Austria (R-OH) spearheaded the House letter to President Obama. It called for efforts to stop Palestinian anti-Israel incitement.
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Sens. Mark Kirk (R-IL), right, and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) gathered signatures from their colleagues on key Senate committees.

Lawmakers Urge Obama to Condemn
Palestinian Incitement

As Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians have escalated dramatically in recent weeks, lawmakers in the House and Senate have written letters to President Obama and Secretary Clinton, respectively, about the ongoing problem of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incitement in Palestinian society.

Reps. Steve Rothman (D-NJ) and Steve Austria (R-OH) spearheaded the letter in the House, which circulated among members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee as well as the House Appropriations Foreign Operations Subcommittee. In the Senate, Sens. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) gathered signatures from their colleagues on the Senate Appropriations Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Foreign Operations Subcommittee.

“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,” the House letter to Obama said. “Unfortunately, we live in a time when the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades will rush to take credit for the horrific, inhuman, and brutal attack in Itamar against the Fogel family, including three of their children, an 11-year-old, 4-year-old, and 3-month-old.

“This must serve as a wakeup call that the current state of affairs is dangerous and unacceptable. In that regard, we respectfully request that you do everything possible to urge President Abbas to root out terrorism, return to negotiations without preconditions, earnestly work toward peace with Israel, and slam the door on any effort to deal with final status issues at the United Nations.”

Both the House and Senate letters call attention to a report recently released by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office entitled “Culture of Peace and Incitement Index.” The report documents multiple instances of official Palestinian incitement in recent months.

The letters urge President Obama to do much more to highlight the problem of Palestinian incitement. “We would like to know what specific steps you are taking to press for an end this dangerous incitement,” the Senate version said. “Palestinian incitement includes the glorification of terrorists and jihad, and anti-Semitic stereotypes in the Palestinian media.”

The senators said they would like much more focus on Palestinian education. “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. Educating people toward peace is critical to establishing the conditions to a secure and lasting peace.

“The Itamar massacre was a sobering reminder that words matter, and that Palestinian incitement against Jews and Israel can lead to violence and terror. We urge you to redouble your efforts to impress upon the Palestinian leadership that continuing to condone incitement is not tolerable. We also urge you to consider focusing adequate training and educational programs in the West Bank and Gaza that promote peaceful coexistence with Israel.”

Members of Congress Speak Out

Many other members of Congress have spoken out in the aftermath of the murder of five members of the Fogel family in Itamar. “It is not enough for the Palestinian Authority to merely condemn this act,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “The PA must finally take immediate and decisive action to verifiably dismantle the extremist infrastructure in the West Bank and Gaza.”

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called the attacks “heinous acts of terrorism” and said that the “action is inexplicable and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.”

Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of 16 senators last month signed a letter to Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, urging the EU to continue to designate Hamas as a foreign terrorist group. BACK TO TOP