US rebukes ‘unacceptable’ West Bank posters urging Abbas’s assassination

Jason Greenblatt says he condemns incitement from both sides after far-right Israeli poster campaign appears in West Bank

A poster showing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with a text reading 'Assassinate murder funders' hanging on a bus station at the entrance to the Israeli settlement of Geva Binyamin, in the West Bank on December 11, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
A poster showing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with a text reading 'Assassinate murder funders' hanging on a bus station at the entrance to the Israeli settlement of Geva Binyamin, in the West Bank on December 11, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump’s envoy for Middle East peace condemned on Wednesday a far-right Israeli group urging the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s assassination.

Palestinians have fumed and called for international condemnation since posters bearing the face of Abbas in rifle crosshairs and the Hebrew words “Assassinate the murder funders” appeared throughout the West Bank on Tuesday.

“Just like I condemn incitement from the Palestinian side, I condemn the incitement calling for the assassination of President Abbas,” White House Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt said in a tweet. “This is completely unacceptable! All peace-loving people should condemn actions like this as well.”

The posters were put up by Derech Chaim, a settler group that calls for public policy in accordance with religious Jewish law. The posters came days after seven people were hurt in a terror attack near the settlement of Ofra.

US President Donald Trump’s Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt addresses the American Jewish Committee’s Women’s Leadership Board Spring Luncheon in New York on April 24, 2018. (Courtesy / Ellen Dubin Photography)

A spokeswoman for the police’s Judea and Samaria (West Bank) District said Tuesday that authorities were aware of the post campaign and were looking into whether there is cause to take the posters down due to incitement.

Along with the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, Greenblatt has been leading the administration’s efforts to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. He has frequently castigated the Hamas terror group for its activities in Gaza, as well as the Palestinian Authority for inciting terrorism. Liberal critics have often said that Greenblatt doesn’t speak out against Israel’s misbehavior, only that of the Palestinians.

The poster campaign launched by Derech Chaim cited the PA’s practice of paying Palestinian terrorists who kill Israelis and their families. According to the Israeli Defense Ministry, the PA gives a monthly salary of NIS 12,000 ($3,200) to each security prisoner sentenced to over 30 years in prison.

In March, Trump signed the Taylor Force Act into law, which halts US funding to the Palestinian Authority until Ramallah stops issuing such payments.

On Wednesday, the Palestinian ambassador to the UN said he would circulate a letter against the campaign to the Security Council.

Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat speaks during at a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah, July 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)

Israel bears full responsibility for “the consequences of the unambiguous and inciting calls to assassinate the Palestinian president,” top Abbas aide Saeb Erekat said Tuesday.

Erekat said the Palestinian leadership and people were taking the threat seriously and called on the international community to condemn the posters. The Palestinian foreign ministry also condemned the posters and urged international action.

On Facebook, Derech Chaim defended its campaign by criticizing the government’s security policy, which it claimed has allowed deadly terror attacks to become “part of the routine.”

The poster campaign appeared after a shooting attack by a suspected Palestinian gunman on Sunday night. Seven people were hurt in the attack near Ofra, including a pregnant woman who was seriously hurt after being shot in the abdomen. Doctors managed to deliver the baby in an emergency C-section after the attack but he was pronounced dead on Wednesday after several days of intensive medical efforts.

Jacob Magid contributed to this report.

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