State Department denies calling out Abbas on incitement

The US State Department pandered once again to the Palestinian Authority (PA), backtracking on remarks noting the PA’s incitement campaign against Israel and blasting Israel’s “illegitimate” presence in Judea and Samaria.

During Monday’s press briefing, State Department spokesman John Kirby denied that US Secretary of State John Kerry had accused the PA of incitement.

During Sunday’s Saban Forum address, Kerry had said that “the Palestinian leadership should stop the incitement and condemn terror attacks.”

He also specifically noted PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s role in the incitement. “He made some very incendiary comments, which I called him on,” he said. “I was very direct with him about the al-Aqsa Mosque [Temple Mount – ed.]. And there was some very inciteful comments made.”

But Kirby denied this ever happened Monday.

“The Secretary did not say that the Palestinian leadership is engaged in incitement,” Kirby stated. “He stressed the importance of doing everything possible to combat it.”

“He also called on [PA] President [Mahmoud] Abbas to condemn Arab attacks against Israelis, which we’ve done repeatedly […] and he also made clear that President Abbas himself has long been committed to nonviolence.”

Kirby also addressed controversy over Kerry’s remarks vis-a-vis the PA, in which the latter said that “there are levels of some corruption and challenges within the PA that have to be taken on” before peace can be achieved.

“The Secretary did not intend to suggest that President Abbas or the PA was engaged in corruption or to make any new statement on that issue,” Kirby iterated. “He was reiterating a basic point that we have long made about the importance of transparency and accountability, which is a principle that President Abbas himself has embraced.”

“The United States remains committed to continuing to help the Palestinian Authority develop its institutions and continue to work closely with the Palestinian Authority to improve rule of law, enhance transparency, combat corruption, and strengthen protections for human rights, and acknowledge the progress that has been made to date on these and other institution-building efforts,” he added.

Kirby then attacked Israel, responding to questions about a Haaretz report earlier this week that private American donors had donated $220 million into Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

“This Administration, like every administration before it since 1967, views settlement activity as illegitimate and counterproductive to the cause of peace,” Kirby fired. “The United States Government does not support any activity that would indicate otherwise.”