The United States, after four days of silence, expressed ”concern” over the Palestinian Authority’s naming a town square in honor of Dalal Mughrabi, the terrorist responsible for an attack that killed 35 Israelis in 1978. The Palestinian Authority honored her near Ramallah -- two days after the massacre of five Jews in the Samaria town of Itamar on the evening of March 11.
Mughrabi was killed while hijacking a bus on the coastal road between Haifa and Tel Aviv, where she directed the attack.
The expression of “concern” was the same one that the State Department used concerning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement that in response to the terrorist attack, Israel will build 500 new residential units in Judea and Samaria.
The U.S. State Department initially declined to comment on the latest incitement, stating it was trying to "clarify" the report. Nevertheless, acting U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters last week that the Obama administration is disturbed by “reports” of the latest honor for Mughrabi, who has been celebrated several times, particularly in the past year.
“We condemn this commemoration of terrorism and have conveyed our deep concern about this incident to senior officials in the Palestinian Authority and have urged them to address it. We underscore that all parties have an obligation to end any form of incitement,” Toner said.
PA chairman and Fatah movement leader Mahmoud Abbas has denied Israeli charges that it continues to incite Arabs against Israel and Jews despite daily evidence to the contrary. He also blamed Israel for assuming that Palestinian Authority Arabs carried out the savage murders of Rabbi Udi and Ruth Fogel and three of their six young children, including a baby, nine evenings ago.
Consistent with minimal coverage of the murders and a general view that Israel is partly to blame for the attack because it maintains a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria, reporters questioned Toner about Abbas’ initiative to reconcile with Hamas and form a new unity government, instead of continuing on the subject of incitement.
Toner used the question as lever to bring up the topic of “trying to get both parties – both the Palestinians and the Israelis – back to the negotiating table.” He also declined to state whether a Hamas-Fatah unity government would hinder or advance the "diplomatic process," although Hamas is defined by the United States as an outlawed terrorist organization.
Toner’s comments followed complaints by several Jewish groups. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations complained about Toner’s early statement that it was seeking “clarifications” on the honoring of the mega-terrorist.
“Where is the outrage? Where is the indignation?" the statement said. “We hope that the U.S. Administration will demand that the Palestinian leadership live up to its commitment to end incitement of all kinds and will hold them to account for the failure to do so.
“The international community not only must condemn acts of inhumanity and brutality, but also must express unequivocal outrage at the ongoing incitement to hatred and violence. Mere words are insufficient; there must be real action and follow-up."
The Jewish group noted that “members of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction were on hand for the unveiling of the plaque” honoring Mughrabi.
The Anti-Defamation League and the Zionist Organization of America also complained about the State Department’s initial low-key reaction. “We respectfully suggest that a forceful, unequivocal, and public condemnation of incitement must be heard around the world and should also be directed to all Palestinians through their media," the ADL said in a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The ZOA said the Obama administration had "refused" to condemn the “almost Nazi-like Fatah ceremony” honoring Mughrabi despite pleas from the Jewish group. “We condemn him for this disgraceful failure and silence," the ZOA said.