Last updated: 27 April, 2012

Erakat says Israel hiking book incites violence

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat has condemned an Israeli hiking book that he said makes the West Bank a part of the Jewish state and incites violence against Palestinians.

The guidebook “considers the occupied West Bank part of Israel and incites… violence against Palestinians,” Erakat said in a statement issued Thursday by the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

His remarks came after Haaretz newspaper reported Israel’s defence ministry had given the book to thousands of families ahead of the country’s memorial and independence day celebrations.

A gift to Israelis who lost relatives in military service and militant attacks since 1948, the publication contains suggested treks in Israel and the West Bank.

Haaretz noted that in some cases, hikers were advised to “bring a weapon, as the trail is located near an Arab village” or “a Bedouin encampment.”

In the statement, Erakat described the book as “an outrageous case of incitement to violence against Palestinians that reflects Israel’s official policy and mindset.

“It should be of grave concern to the international community,” he was quoted as saying.

“By issuing a book on trails in Israel that includes at least 50 sites in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the Israeli Defence Ministry exposes the true agenda of this government; nothing but abject disregard to international law, and the international consensus on the two-state solution.”

Erakat said the book also gives Palestinian villages and areas Israeli names.

This showed “Israel is intent on taking over the entire Palestinian Territory rather than reaching a comprehensive and just agreement to the conflict based on the two-state solution,” he said.

The defence ministry denied it was responsible for selecting the routes in the book.

“The various tracks and hikes in the book were chosen by a committee of bereaved parents,” a ministry official told AFP in a written response to a query.

“The Minister of Defence signs off on the gifts every year and respects the choice of the bereaved families.”