Foreign Policy Blogs

Condemnations All Around

In the aftermath of the killing of five Israelis, including three children, in the West Bank settlement of Itamar, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas offered a tepid condemnation, saying:

“…violence produces violence and what is needed is to speed up a just and comprehensive solution to the conflict.”

Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu immediately criticized Abbas’ statements as “stuttering and weak” and emphasized that Abbas must do more to curb the “incitement” to violence by figures in Palestinian media, religious institutions, and schools.
Three days after the attack, Abbas adopted a more strident tone in an interview with Israel Army radio, calling the killings “despicable, immoral and inhuman”, and saying :

“(s)cenes like these – the murder of infants and children and a woman slaughtered – cause any person endowed with humanity to hurt and to cry.”

Netanyahu quickly responded that Abbas should use such unambiguous language in a direct address to Palestinian media. Israeli leadership has long contended that Palestinian Authority leaders will issue politically correct statements to Western media outlets, while expressing a more militant perspective in its statement to Palestinian newspapers and television stations. To my knowledge, there is no evidence that Abbas has issued such a statement, nor have I heard of any attempt by Abbas to confront the anti-Israeli vitriol generated by Palestinian media commentators, religious leaders, and educators.

However, I also have not heard any reports of Netanyahu harshly condemning those Israeli settlers responsible for numerous attacks on Palestinians and their property since the Itamar massacre. While he did emphasize the illegality of the settlers’ “price tag” policy in a speech three days before the Itamar massacre, Netanyahu would demonstrate his sincerity by issuing the same “strong, unequivocal condemnations” of the settlers’ attacks which he has demanded of Abbas. This would not equate the horrific acts at Itamar with acts of vandalism or non-fatal attacks on Palestinian adults. Rather, it would help refute the notion that Netanyahu’s focus on Abbas’ language is merely a cynical ploy in which Netanyahu seeks to portray Abbas as insufficiently committed to a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.



Zev Wexler

Zev Wexler is an associate at the law firm of Vinson & Elkins LLP, where he represents investment managers. In 2009, he took a sabbatical year and volunteered as a strategic consultant in Malawi for Millennium Promise, a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. Zev is a board member of American Jewish Committee's ACCESS young leadership program, and serves on the Committee's International Relations Commission. Zev is also a board member of the Microfinance Club of New York. Prior to working at Vinson & Elkins LLP, Zev worked at the law firm of Skadden, Arps, and at the asset manager BlackRock Financial Management. He received a BA in Public Policy from Princeton University and a JD from New York University School of Law, and is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). Zev currently lives in New York.

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