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State Department Refuses to Comment on PA Incitement

State Department Spokeswoman refuses to "give an analysis of every action" when asked by reporter about PA incitement.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 1/8/2014, 5:13 AM

John Kerry and Binyamin Netanyahu
John Kerry and Binyamin Netanyahu
Flash 90

The Palestinian Authority (PA) continues to incite against Israel, even as peace talks are continuing, but the spokeswoman of the State Department on Tuesday refused to condemn or even discuss this incitement.

Jen Psaki was asked by a reporter whether the United States agreed with comments made by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials about the PA’s continued incitement.

“We’ve spoken about our concerns about incitement consistently over the course of years...I don’t know that we have anything new to report or any analysis on the recent comments over the last couple of days,” she responded.

Asked whether she believes the incitement is increasing, Psaki said, “I don’t have any particular analysis of that. Obviously, our focus is on reducing incitement, calling for an end to incitement. We think it’s unproductive and unhelpful to the process, as you know.”

She was then asked whether comments by the chief PA negotiator, Saeb Erekat, that Israel poisoned former PA head Yasser Arafat were incitement, to which she replied that she would not “analyze every comment and what it means.”

The focus, said Psaki, “remains on both parties and having them at the table and moving the talks forward.”

Psaki also refused to comment on whether PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s celebrations for the terrorists Israel released as a “gesture” to the PA were incitement, saying, “I’m not going to give an analysis of every action and what is incitement and what is not incitement.”

“What I will say is that we know this is a tough time,” she added. “We’re working through the process on the ground. We know that there are political pressures from all sides, and we’re seeing that manifest itself in many ways. The leaders remain engaged and committed, and that’s what our focus is on.”

Psaki was then asked whether the U.S. agrees with Netanyahu’s comments that by treating the terrorists as heroes and by accusing Israel of killing Arafat, Abbas is not preparing his people for a potential peace agreement with Israel.

She responded, “I’m not going to speak to that. We – the Secretary feels that both sides are negotiating in good faith. We know that there are comments that are made from both sides that are received poorly or negatively from the other side. That’s a part of the process that we anticipated. We’re there as an arbiter between them, but we’re not going to speak to or analyze or give commentary on every comment made.”

On Sunday, the Israeli Cabinet was presented with a detailed report on the incitement and the culture of hatred in the PA.

The findings presented to the ministers show that incitement against Israel and the Jewish people is continuing on official media channels including – inter alia – by bodies that are very close to the PA Chairman and in educational and religious networks.

The findings also show that during the period of negotiations between Israel and the PA, not only did incitement not lessen, in certain areas it even increased, and that recently, the use of prominent Nazi elements – such as the image of Hitler – has also increased.