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- As Delivered - 


WASHINGTON, DC—Representative Eliot L. Engel, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today delivered the following statement at the full Committee hearing on the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s incitement to violence and the most recent wave of terror in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:


“Mr. Chairman, thank you for calling this hearing.  Obviously, the Palestinian violence in Israel and the West Bank is reaching a crisis point. 


“Our immediate goal must be to demand that those responsible end this senseless and lawless bloodshed.  But it’s also important that we seek to understand why this violence has reared up now, while continuing to demonstrate unwavering support for our ally Israel.


“I’m glad that our witnesses are here to be part of this conversation.  And let me say to all of you: welcome to the Foreign Affairs Committee.


“It’s heartbreaking, I have to say, to wake up seemingly every morning to a new report of a stabbing or a shooting of an innocent civilian in Israel.  I can only imagine what it is like for the victims and their loved ones, and no person anywhere should have to live with that kind of fear. 


“And let me just say for people who have grievances and who feel that the government of Israel hasn’t done what it should do.  Terrorism is not the answer.  And I support a two-state solution, but the Palestinians will never get their state on the backs of terrorism.  If they think they can use terrorism to get their state, they are sadly mistaken.  And that has to be understood by everyone.


“These are innocent civilians who have had no role whatsoever in anything, and it’s terrorism pure and simple when you go and just stab somebody or make them afraid that you’re going to harm them when they’re just innocent civilians in the street.  That is not anything that should in any way, shape or form, be condoned.  And there is no moral equivalency.


“No government anywhere should hesitate to defend its citizens from that sort of violence.  And why there would be any question about that baffles me.  Israel has the right to defend itself and its people, plain and simple.


“And we know what the Israelis are up against.  This wave of violence isn’t some random flare-up.  It’s 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. 


“These ugly ideas have been woven into Palestinian society and media for decades.  Books that teach children that Israelis are their enemies.  Political cartoons depicting Jews as apes and pigs.  The glorification of terrorists as martyrs and heroes in a holy war.


“Every slur, every slogan, every lie told about Israel and Jews is like adding another piece of kindling to the stack.  One small spark, and it starts burning.  And that’s what we’re seeing today.


“Now, the best option for stopping these attacks would be for Palestinian leaders to demand an end to the violence and bring those responsible to justice.  Unfortunately, that’s not what we’re hearing from the Palestinian Authority. 


“Instead, we’re hearing a false equivalence between terrorists and Israeli law enforcement.  We’re hearing blame put on the Israelis for defending their people, false claims about changing the status quo on the Temple Mount, lies about the Israelis executing an attacker, when that attacker is actually being treated in an Israeli hospital.  Statements like these just throw gasoline on the fire.


“Chairman Royce and I are circulating a letter to President Abbas, imploring him to repudiate this wave of violence and to stop the PA’s incitement of this brutality.  So much depends on bringing a quick end to these attacks, because in addition to the horrible cost of life and limb, crises like this one play into a much bigger picture.


“With each drop of blood shed, the goal of a two-state solution becomes harder and harder to reach.  Violence and terrorism will never be the foundation of a peaceful future.  Palestinians need to put down their knives and guns and their leaders need to come back to the negotiating table with no preconditions.  I sincerely hope—for the sake of Israelis and Palestinians alike—that President Abbas shows real leadership in the days ahead.


“For now, I think it’s important that we continue to speak out against the mayhem this Palestinian violence has brought to Israel.  I look forward to hearing from our witnesses about what’s behind this recent violence, how it will be halted, and what if anything we can do to help reach that goal more quickly.


“Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  I yield back.”