A report by a watchdog group on renewed Palestinian incitement has sparked a debate over the capacity and willingness of Palestinian officials in general, and of the Fatah faction of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas specifically, to make peace with Israel. A picture posted to an official Fatah social media outlet glorified Palestinian terrorist Abdallah Barghouti, who murdered scores of Israelis over half a dozen terror attacks:
A picture glorifying 5 of the suicide bombings that Barghouti prepared explosives for and which killed 61 “Zionists” was posted by the administrator of the official Facebook page of the Enlistment and Organization Commission of Fatah. Terrorist Barghouti was honored as the “brave prisoner” and his attacks as “self-sacrificing activity” and “Martyrdom-seeking operations.” “Martyrdom-seeking operations” is the Palestinian euphemism for suicide bombings.
Fox News reported on the controversy, which erupted after Palestinian Media Watch called attention to the social media posts.
Through its social media presence, Fatah glorifies five of the suicide bombings Barghouti organized between 2000 and 2003, including the attack at a Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem that killed 15 people on Aug. 9, 2001.
The bombings were “self-sacrificing activity” and “martyrdom-seeking operations,” according to the Facebook page.
The incident comes days after revelations that Abbas had described another Palestinian terrorist as a “pure soul.” U.S. officials including President Obama have repeatedly condemned Palestinian incitement to violence as a critical barrier to successfully negotiating peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Concerns over incitement stretch back to the early days of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and observers have linked Palestinian intransigence and violence to lack of progress in the arena. A 2000 speech by Congressman Eliot Engel linked burgeoning violence to incitement by then-Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, noting that “The violent Palestinian riots we are witnessing today and for the past several days… result directly from the fact that Yasir Arafat did not prepare his people for peace.”