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March 15, 2011

Statement to the Diplomatic Community on Incitement

A horrible murder has occurred and this killing of three innocent Israeli children by an unknown assailant should not and must not be condoned. To exploit the deaths of these children for political purposes is abhorrent. Nevertheless, this is exactly what extreme religious movements, some national parties, and the Israeli leadership within Israel is doing by using the deaths of these children to call for and justify the building of more illegal settlements.

The political exploitation of these young Israelis and the incubation of racist attitudes amongst Israeli children in general are unfortunate actions that are encouraged within the Israeli state. Sadly, this phenomenon appears to be more the norm than the exception today. For instance, the results of a poll conducted by an Israeli research institute (Maagar Mochot) indicates that over half of all Israeli high school students support Jews having more rights than Palestinian citizens living within the State of Israel. These discriminatory views were supported by eight out of ten Israeli students who were enrolled in religious high schools at the time the poll was taken. These racist and extremist views are encouraged within the Israeli educational system and do not provide positive indications that the Israeli establishment is serious about supporting an agenda or atmosphere of peace.

The Palestinian Authority has shown its commitment to non-violence by achieving a sustained period of stability which has been acknowledged by the entire international community as a major contribution to peace. Nobody who is genuinely committed to lasting, peaceful co-existence between Palestinians and Israelis would question the seriousness of this commitment by Palestinian leaders, security forces, and civil society at large.

The Israeli Prime Minister has no justification for saying that incitement 'prompts the murder of children'. We call on the Israeli government to show responsibility and to avoid inflammatory rhetoric which is itself a form of incitement. If the Israeli government was truly committed to lowering tensions and dealing with incitement, it would respond to our long-standing suggestion for a joint committee with an international presence to investigate and prevent statements and actions likely to incite hatred and violence. This committee, receiving a mandate based on an agreed definition of incitement, would be created with the sole purpose of monitoring potential breaches. The Palestinian Authority has already acted against incitement in ways that have been commended by the international community, including in its schools and a joint committee on incitement would ensure that efforts are being made on both sides with Israeli schools being no exception. Finally and worthy of note, this committee would treat cases of incitement equally.

It must be recognized that the greatest form of incitement within Palestinian civil society is the Israeli Occupation and by extension; daily humiliation at the hands of Israeli forces, the leniency shown to settlers who desecrate mosques and burn olive groves, the binding restrictions placed on the lives of law-abiding Palestinians, and the Israeli policy of building towns, cities and roads for Israelis only on Palestinian land. This is incitement of the gravest character and the Palestinian people respond to these horrendous conditions each day with non-violence.

The Palestinian leadership has condemned these brutal murders just as they condemned the brutal murder of 342 Palestinian children in Gaza by the Israeli military in December, 2008 through January, 2009. The deaths of all children who have been denied their inalienable right to life should be lamented by all men and women regardless of their heritage. It is incumbent on all parties to protect our future generation's right to life and liberty. Because the Israeli Occupation continues to deny Palestinian children and adults their rights to liberty and freedom, ending the Israeli Occupation and inculcating respect for the principle of two states for two peoples while simultaneously developing a common response to incitement is a common goal for a better future that demands our mutual focus.

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