Overwhelming House majority warns Palestinians about violence

Overwhelming House majority warns Palestinians about violence
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The overwhelming majority of the House signed on to a letter warning Palestinian leaders that some of their “abhorrent and deadly rhetoric” is contributing to a “wave of Palestinian violence.”

Unless Palestinian leaders take action to stem the rising tide of violence, it “will undermine the prospects of a two-state solution,” 369 House lawmakers wrote to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in a letter made public on Thursday.

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“False claims” about Israel’s policy for sacred sites on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount “or accusations of Israel executing an attacker ... only encourage more acts of terror,” the bipartisan group of lawmakers wrote on Tuesday.

“The abhorrent and deadly rhetoric — including calls for knife attacks on Israelis — must stop.”

Over the past month, a wave of violence across Israel has renewed bitter hostilities between Palestinians and Jewish Israelis. Palestinian knife attacks against Israeli security forces and civilians have been met with revenge killings and a crackdown by Israel.

Since the beginning of October, 11 Israelis have been killed, as have at least 69 Palestinians, according to Reuters. About 42 of those Palestinians were killed while in the course of an attack, Israel officials say.

Despite a relative calm in recent days, the escalating violence sparked concerns about a third Intifada — or uprising — that could engulf Israel.

In their letter this week, the bipartisan group of House lawmakers put the onus on the Palestinian Authority to “take concrete steps to avoid further violence.” Among other things, Palestinian leaders should rebuke the attacks, they wrote, as well as “unconditionally renew direct talks with the Israelis” and halt any comments that could be incendiary.

“The stakes are high,” the lawmakers wrote. “Now is the time for responsible and sustained leadership on these critical issues.”

The letter was led by the bipartisan heads of the House Foreign Affairs Committee: Chairman Ed RoyceEdward (Ed) Randall RoyceGil Cisneros to face Young Kim in rematch of 2018 House race in California The most expensive congressional races of the last decade Mystery surrounds elusive sanctions on Russia MORE (R-Calif.) and Rep. Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelChina must be held accountable for its egregious actions against Hong Kong Voice of America not extending foreign journalists' visas: report New York candidates left on hold as primary results trickle in MORE (D-N.Y.). The 369 lawmakers account for roughly 85 percent of the chamber. 

The Obama administration has taken a more measured stance, repeatedly insisting “both sides” need to measure their rhetoric, so as not to stir the pot. 

The broad support from lawmakers in both parties makes clear that Capitol Hill lawmakers are more willing to put the put responsibility for the violence on the Palestinians.

The lawmakers’ letter comes ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington next week, when the growing violence will certainly be a topic of discussion.