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Arafat Orders Republication Decree on Incitement

Arafat Orders Republication of Decree on Incitement, with Immediate Effect

President Yasser Arafat on Sunday ordered, with immediate effect, republication of the three-article presidential decree No. 3 of 1998 reinforcing national unity, forbidding racial discrimination, “incitement to violence,” insulting various religions, and “incitement to violate agreements contracted by the Palestine Liberation Organization” (PLO).

“The following acts are considered illegal in all Palestinian governances: Inciting racial discrimination, encouraging violent actions that are against the law, showing disrespect for different religions, using violence or inciting the use of violence that harms relations with brotherly and foreign states, forming illegal societies that commit or incite the committing of crimes, stirring up the masses to change matters by illegal use of force, incitement to sedition and incitement to breach agreements between the PLO and brotherly or foreign states,” the presidential decree says in its first article.

Perpetrators of the forgoing acts shall be punished in accordance with the laws specified in the preamble of the decree, article two stipulated.

The preamble referred to “law No. 5 of 1995 dealing with the transfer of powers and legislation, the penal law No. 74 of 1936 and the amendments thereto, the penal law No. 16 of 1960 effective in the Palestinian governorates of the West Bank, the PLO Penal Code of 1979 and decision No. 1 of 1994 on the applicability of rules and orders in use prior to 5 May 1967 in the Palestinian Territories …”

Article three of the republished presidential decree stipulates immediate effect thereof as of the date of publishing in the Palestinian Gazette.

However, the republished decree indicated that its articles remain effective until a unified legislation is approved to deal with these issues by the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), “without prejudice to the rules and principles of the United Nations human international law, which was endorsed by the PLO.”

The presidential decree in its preamble stressed that its articles are to take effect within the context of the rulings of Palestinian laws, stipulating “respect to political plurality, and the freedom of thought and expression.”

The presidential decree on incitement on 19 November 1998 was issued less than one month after the signing of the Wye River Agreement.

Subsequently, a Palestinian-American-Israeli committee, the Committee for the Prevention of Incitement, was formed. Its role was to monitor cases of incitement and to issue special reports and recommendations.

The Wye Memorandum, signed on 22 November 1998, stipulates in its Article 3 that such a decree be issued and that such a committee be formed.

However Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced that the Oslo agreements were “dead” shortly after assuming the powers of his first-term premiership, and consequently his governments have ignored all the signed accords with the PLO, reoccupied most of Palestinian territories.

Recently the Palestine National Authority (PNA) Minister of Information Nabil Amre met with the Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom in Jerusalem and agreed to revive the joint committee on incitement.

However the joint committee has yet to be revived, Amre said later.


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