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Congress & the Middle East: Senate Letter Urging Administration to Press PA on Incitement

(March 29, 2011)

A bipartisan group of 27 U.S. senators, led by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand [D-NY] and Mark Kirk [R-IL], signed on to a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging the administration to press the Palestinian Authority to address incitement and violence against Jews and Israel. The letter was sent following the massacre of five Jewish family members in the northern West Bank and the bombing of a bus in Jerusalem. The letter suggested that the PA and President Mahmoud Abbas has not done enough to end incitement.

Dear Secretary Clinton:

In the wake of this month's brutal terrorist murders of a Jewish family in Itamar and the terrorist bombing of a civilian bus in Jerusalem, we are writing with serious concern over continuing incitement directed against Jews and Israel within the Palestinian media, mosques and schools, and even by individuals or institutions affiliated with the Palestinian Authority (PA). We would like to know what specific steps you are taking to press for an end to this dangerous incitement.

Palestinian incitement includes the glorification of terrorists and jihad, and anti-Semitic stereotypes in the Palestinian media. There are a number of examples of Palestinian incitement over the last year listed in an index established by the Israeli Prime Minister's office.

On March 9, 2011, PA President Mahmoud Abbas' advisor, Sabri Saidam, delivered a speech in which he emphasized that Palestinian weapons must be turned towards Israel. 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.

On February 9, 2011, the official Palestinian television station broadcast a clip from a campaign entitled "Women as Exemplars," during which Dalal Mughrabi (see above) was extolled. In the summer of 2010, several children's summer camps were named after her.

On January 24, 2011, the Governor of Jenin issued a Presidential Grant worth $2,000 to the family of a Palestinian terrorist, Khaldoun Samoudi, who was killed while trying to detonate two bombs against Israeli soldiers at the Beka'ot Crossing.

On January 2, 2011, Al Hayat Al-Jadida reported that Azzam Al-Ahmed, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, attended a gathering on the 46th anniversary of the establishment of Fatah during which models of settlement buildings were blown up. He reportedly reviewed terrorist attacks perpetrated by Fatah and said that, "Fatah is a mass movement which believed in popular revolution and wrested its right to use all means of resistance in order to achieve its aim."

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.


Mark Kirk
Kirsten E. Gillibrand
Jon Kyl
Robert Menendez
Barbara A. Mikulski
Mary L. Landrieu
James E. Risch
Charles E. Schumer
James M. Inhofe
Ron Wyden
Pat Roberts
Joseph L. Lieberman
Frank R. Lautenberg
Amy Klobuchar
Jerry Moran
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
John Ensign
Benjamin L. Cardin
Roger Wicker
Bill Nelson
Roy Blunt
John Boozman
Patrick J. Toomey
Sherrod Brown
John Barrasso
Mike Crapo
Jon Tester

Sources: JTA, U.S. Senator Mark Kirk