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Ashrawi: Israeli incitement creating culture of impunity

Aug. 22, 2012 7:35 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 24, 2012 11:27 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Senior PLO official Hanan Ashrawi on Wednesday said the Israeli government was waging a campaign of "distortion, hatred and incitement" which created "a culture of impunity, racism and exclusivity."

Ashrawi condemned written remarks by Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who wrote to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton accusing President Mahmoud Abbas of "acting to undermine attempts to renew the peace process".

In the letter, Lieberman called for Palestinians elections to choose "a new, legitimate, hopefully realistic" leadership that can "bring progress with Israel.

"This letter exposes the real nature of Israel’s occupation which is characterized by arrogance, manipulation of facts, and outright racism," Ashrawi said in a statement.

"Rather than complying with international law and signed agreements, the Israeli government has launched a deliberate campaign of distortion, hatred and incitement.”

She added: "Official statements and policies such as those espoused by Lieberman and his ilk are creating a culture of impunity, racism and exclusivity."

Ashrawi said this culture generated violence, hate crimes and settler terrorism.

On Friday, a Jewish mob lynched three Palestinians in East Jerusalem and a day earlier, Jewish settlers firebombed a Palestinian taxi injuring a family of five, including two four-year-olds who suffered first degree burns, she noted.

Meanwhile an official in the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Reuters that Lieberman's letter did not represent the position of the Israeli government.

"While the Palestinian leadership under Abu Mazen (Abbas) has created difficulties that have prevented the resumption of talks, Israel is committed to working with the Palestinian leadership to restarting the dialogue, and of course Israel does not interfere in election processes in other places," added the official, who asked not to be named.

Ashrawi said the Palestinian leadership was not the main obstacle to peace.

"Rather, the real threat to peace and stability in the region is Israeli intransigence and Israel’s system of ethnic cleansing and apartheid, which include the annexation of Palestinian land, the expropriation of resources, its construction and expansion of illegal settlements, the demolition of Palestinian homes and the continued displacement of Palestinians."

She added: "Israel's total disregard for international law and the most common norms of human decency in relation to Palestinians have backfired within Israel and are distorting its own moral fabric."

She urged the Quartet and the international community to stop tolerating Israeli violations of international law and to "act now before such a culture of impunity creates irreversible damage."

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