NEW YORK (JTA) — U.S. Jewish leaders pressed Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on incitement and the need to keep Israel a Jewish state.
At a meeting Feb. 18 in Jenin between Fayyad and a visiting delegation from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Alan Solow, the chairman of the Jewish umbrella group, said the actions of the Palestinian leadership set back the cause of peace.
“When the Palestinian leadership visits and honors families of those who have murdered innocent Israeli civilians, or when produce is destroyed rather than used only because it originates from the West Bank, that sets back our confidence of peace," Solow said, according to a news release from the Conference of Presidents. "The Israeli prime minister is clear about Israel’s needs to be recognized as a Jewish state. Yet, not only do the Palestinians refuse to acknowledge Israel’s Jewish nature, but clearly state, in Article 19 of the Fatah constitution, that there must be an armed struggle with the Zionist entity.”
Fayyad criticized Israeli military incursions into Palestinian areas, saying they undermined the Palestinian leadership. He pledged that the Palestinian Authority is committed to nonviolence and coexistence.
The PA wants “a progressive state, democratic, which doesn’t tolerate discrimination, which is open, culturally sensitive — including to our Israeli neighbors," Fayyad said, according to The Jerusalem Post.
A former World Bank official with a doctorate in economics, Fayyad is generally regarded as a moderate, though he has come under fire, including from the Zionist Organization of America, for meeting Feb. 17 with the family of a Palestinian killed as he allegedly attempted to stab an Israeli soldier Feb. 12 in Hebron. The ZOA called Fayyad and the Palestinian Authority "unreconstructed supporters of terrorism and not genuine moderates and peacemakers."
ZOA President Morton Klein, who was present for the Feb. 18 meeting, also raised the issue of incitement at a meeting with several journalists covering the Middle East conflict, including New York Times bureau chief Ethan Bronner. Klein complained that the Times all but ignores incitement in the official Palestinian media and the perceived endorsement by the Palestinian leadership of anti-Israel terrorism, while reporting extensively on allegations against Israel.
According to Klein, Bronner explained the difference by pointing to different expectations of Israelis and Palestinians. Bronner told JTA that wasn’t exactly what he had said and declined to comment further.