WASHINGTON -- It came as no surprise that the House Foreign Affairs Committee meeting on the current wave of violence in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank was a decidedly one-sided discussion.
In a hearing titled “Words Have Consequences: Palestinian Authority Incitement to Violence,” committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and ranking member Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) reached a similar conclusion: The current instability is caused by Palestinian leaders encouraging their people to kill Israelis.
Royce cited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' quote, “We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem.” Engel said the past month of stabbings, shootings and vehicular assaults is “the product of years and years of anti-Israel propaganda and indoctrination -- some of which has been actively promoted by Palestinian Authority officials and institutions.”
“It’s heartbreaking,” said Engel, “to wake up seemingly every morning to a new report of a stabbing or a shooting of an innocent civilian in Israel."
But there was no mention of the 21 Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces since Oct. 1, despite having no identifiable connection to terrorist attacks.
Lawmakers did not talk about the Israeli teen who stabbed four Arabs earlier this month in southern Israel because of his belief that “all Arabs are terrorists.”
In fact, one of the few lawmakers to mention settlements was Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who accused the international community of applying a “false moral equivalence between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.”
“Some, very lamely, blame settlement activity by Israel as the justification for increased violence, instead of putting the blame where it should be -- with the Palestinian Authority, with Abu Mazen,” she said, using another name for Abbas.
The congresswoman's comments were likely a swipe at Secretary of State John Kerry, who suggested last week that Palestinian frustration over settlement expansion is fueling the violence.
No one in the House Foreign Affairs Committee seemed aware that a senior official at Shin Bet -- Israel’s secret service -- recently refuted claims that Abbas is inciting Palestinians to attack Israelis. As Haaretz reported earlier this month, the Shin Bet official said that Abbas is “instructing his security forces to prevent terror attacks as much as possible."
Also absent from Thursday’s debate was any mention of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech at the Zionist Congress on Wednesday, where he accused the Palestinian grand mufti of Jerusalem of inspiring Hitler’s decision to exterminate the Jewish people during the Holocaust.
Historians and the Anti-Defamation League have refuted Netanyahu’s version of history. His statement also compelled German Chancellor Angela Merkel to reiterate that Germans were responsible for the Holocaust. Arab-Israeli Knesset member Ayman Odeh accused Netanyahu of "rewriting history in order to incite against the Palestinian people.”
But the House Foreign Affairs Committee members' omissions aren't surprising -- this was, after all, a hearing to address Palestinian incitement.
Much to the chagrin of several members of the committee, the State Department has avoided assigning blame to either side. "We want to stress publicly and privately the importance of preventing inflammatory rhetoric, accusations, or actions on both sides that can lead to violence," State Department spokesman John Kirby said on Wednesday.