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US Congress may condition Palestine aid on reducing anti-Israel incitement

Israel's Intelligence Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said in statements to Israeli Channel 2 Saturday that the US Congress will soon approve a bill conditioning US aid to the Palestinian Authority on curbing anti-Israel incitement.


Steinitz highlighted his role in convincing the House Appropriations Committee to adopt the draft legislation, which he expects to be ratified as soon as possible.

Steinitz said he enjoys the support of both Democrats and Republicans in this regard, and that the US Administration's commitment is guaranteed.

He added that his ministry had conducted a study on incitement against Israel in Palestinian education and places of worship, and that "Congress members have been profoundly affected by the results."

It is noteworthy that Steinitz himself mourned Rabbi Afodia Yosef, the spiritual leader of the Shas movement after his death, describing him as "teacher of this era", despite the racial remarks attributed to the rabbi where he likened Arabs to "cockroaches and animals", and insulted Prophet Mohamed (PBUH).

Senior researcher at the Palestinian Center for Israeli Studies Antoine Shalhat argued that Israel has exercised pressures on Congress to issue the law so as to allow Israel to modify the "framework agreement" proposed by John Kerry in accordance with its reservations.

In statements to Arabi 21 website, Shalhat pointed out that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempts through this move to put pressure on the PA to give in to more compromises, adding that Netanyahu is aware that he has no authorization to sign the framework agreement.

Shalhat pointed to the letter sent by 21 MKs and ministers who requested Netanyahu not to stop settlement activities in the West Bank. "If Netanyahu does not enjoy support from his own camp regarding a symbolic step like freezing settlement activities, how could he sign a comprehensive agreement with the PA?" Shalhat wondered.

He pointed out that Israel is intent on raising the cost the PA needs to pay in exchange for the framework agreement, and that the US will likely ask the PA to change educational curriculum in Palestine based on Israeli claims.

Shalhat argues that the American attitude indicates that it puts pressure on the weaker side of the conflict, embarrassing the PA before its people, and thus weakening its negotiation status.

Through this move, Israel is testing its ability to influence other files, such as the U.S. stance on the Iranian nuclear program, since "Israeli elite voiced its dissatisfaction over the current US policy towards Iran," Shalhat said.

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