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Abbas calls for renewing trilateral committee against incitement

PA leader’s initiative follows Netanyahu’s insistence that addressing Palestinian incitement must precede peace talks

Dov Lieber is The Times of Israel's Arab affairs correspondent.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a Christmas lunch with members of the Christian Orthodox community in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, January 6, 2016. (AFP/Thomas Coex)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a Christmas lunch with members of the Christian Orthodox community in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, January 6, 2016. (AFP/Thomas Coex)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called on Tuesday for the renewal of the Trilateral Anti-Incitement Committee, which monitors cases where incitement to violence and terror is suspected, and whose members include Israeli, Palestinian and American officials.

The committee was formed as part of the Wye River Memorandum in 1998, and met every two months until the outbreak of the Second Intifada in September 2000.

Speaking to a Romanian delegation visiting the PA presidential headquarters in Ramallah, Abbas said the Palestinians “have no objection to the formation of this committee to monitor incitement by both sides. As soon as the Israeli side agrees to this committee, we are ready to participate.”

Echoing his comments in an interview on Israeli television last week in which he said he was ready to sit down for peace negotiations immediately, Abbas told the Romanian delegation, “that our hands are outstretched for peace, and we seek to realize it,” according to the official PA news site Wafa

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting with Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic, Lubomie Zaoralek, at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem,April 4, 2016. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting with Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic, Lubomie Zaoralek, at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, April 4, 2016. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)

“We are against all forms of terrorism and extremism regardless of the source, and a just solution to the Palestinian issue will work to stop terrorism, extremism and take away the excuses of extremists,” Abbas added.

The PA president’s call to renew the Trilateral Anti-Incitement Committee follows a statement on Monday by the Israeli prime minister calling for the end of “the Palestinian campaign of incitement.”

The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been adamant that PA-sanctioned media and school curriculum are responsible for inciting terrorism.

On Monday, responding to Abbas’s remarks to renew talks, Netanyahu invited Abbas to meet in Jerusalem “any day” this week, but the first order of business, the Israeli leader insisted, had to be ending Palestinian incitement.

The Times of Israel has reported that Netanyahu refused to act on previous calls by American officials and Abbas to renew the Trilateral Committee.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said on Monday that he was somewhat heartened by Abbas’s statements during the interview but that the PA leader needed to back up his words by distancing himself from fundamentalists like the Islamist group Hamas which openly calls for the destruction of the state of Israel.

Hamas and Abbas’s party Fatah are currently deep into negotiations to form a Palestinian unity government.

Elhanan MIiller and Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.

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