PMW Director Itamar Marcus to Dutch Parliament: Israeli government cracking down on PA incitement
Israel upping anti-incitement policy, Dutch parliament told
by Cnaan Lipshiz
Itamar Marcus, founder and director of Palestinian Media Watch, addresses Dutch legislators considering withholding PA aid.
THE HAGUE – The Israeli government toughened its policy last month on Palestinian incitement, Itamar Marcus, founder and director of Palestinian Media Watch, told Dutch legislators Thursday.
Government sources in Jerusalem, meanwhile, confirmed that “dealing with Palestinian incitement has become a priority issue for Israel.”
The Dutch Christian party that invited Marcus to speak in parliament demanded The Netherlands consider withholding aid to the Palestinian Authority unless the latter curbed anti-Semitic speech and glorification of violence by its officials and through its media.
“For the longest time, material on Palestinian incitement to violence was used quietly by the Israeli government,” Marcus said at a presentation of his new book, Deception, in the parliament.
“In the last few weeks, there has been a major change on the part of the Israeli government, which is putting this issue at a higher level.”
Marcus, whose Jerusalem based NGO has been monitoring Palestinian media since 1996, pointed to condemnations from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu over the past few weeks as signs of this new policy.
“There were a few public statements by the prime minister: He spoke about the glorification of the killers of the Fogel family; about the mufti of Jerusalem’s call to kill Jews, and the book, Deception, was given by Israeli negotiators to Saeb Erekat 10 days ago in negotiations in Jordan,” he said.
Last month, the official Fatah-controlled television channel broadcast a sermon by the mufti of Jerusalem, who praised the “Fatah revolution” and called on Muslims to kill Jews at a ceremony celebrating the PA faction’s 47th anniversary. The same television channel in January presented the men who murdered five members of the Fogel family in the Itamar settlement in March as heroes.
Marcus said Britain and the EU had condemned the mufti’s statement following Netanyahu’s own statement.
“As Israel becomes more outspoken about this issue, we’re hoping other countries [will] likewise be more outspoken,” the NGO director said. “It could be that the world is waiting for Israel.”
Contacted for a reaction, the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed that it was working “intensively” against incitement.
“Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu views the Palestinian Authority’s incitement against Israel as an obstacle to peace,” his office said. Government sources said the issue had become a top priority.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told The Jerusalem Post that “we cannot turn a blind eye to this incitement, and the international community has to loudly condemn these comments.”
Marcus’s recently published book focuses on “duplicity” by Palestinian officials, who, he says, deliver reconciliatory messages to foreign ears while offering bellicose speeches to their home audience.
Among the hundreds of examples the 275-page book cites are two statements that Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad made on the same day. On March 23 last year, he expressed his “honor and admiration” for four female prisoners involved in terror bombings inside Israel, hours after condemning a deadly terror bombing in Jerusalem.
Marcus came to present his book to the parliament at the initiative of Joël Voordewind, an MP for the relatively small centrist party ChristenUnie. Attending his address were representatives of the Party for Freedom and the ruling Liberal Party. Labor, the Socialist Party and other parties did not send any representatives to the book presentation.
On Wednesday, Voordewind submitted a parliamentary query containing seven questions addressed to Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal.
One of the questions read, “Are you prepared to give out aid to the Palestinian Authority on a monthly basis instead of a yearly basis, which would evaluate every month whether the PA is indeed carrying out an effective anti-terrorism policy?” According to parliament regulations, Rosenthal has two weeks to reply.