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Last Updated: Friday, 20 May, 2005, 11:42 GMT 12:42 UK
Palestinian ban on hate sermons
Palestinian Information Minister Nabil Shaath
Nabil Shaath has ordered the suspension of the cleric
The Palestinian Authority has moved to ban anti-Semitic sermons from state television after a cleric described Jews as a "virus resembling Aids".

Information Minister Nabil Shaath pledged to end the broadcast of sermons that incite hatred of other faiths.

An Israeli spokesman said the broadcast breached a Palestinian commitment to incitement against Jews.

Mosque preacher Ibrahim Mdaires made the comments in a speech aired live from a Gaza mosque last week.

During the transmission, the cleric also accused Jews of exaggerating the numbers who died during the Holocaust and of "provoking the Nazi government to wage war against the entire world".

Israel welcomes move

Mr Shaath has also asked the Religious Affairs Ministry, who employ the cleric, to "suspend [Ibrahim Mdaires] and prevent him from delivering further sermons".

"We condemn assault of Judaism as a religion and as Muslims we reject such remarks," the minister said.

The ban is the strongest action the Palestinian Authority has taken against incitement since November last year, when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas asked the state broadcasting corporation to "ensure that programmes do not include material that might be interpreted as incitement".

The Israeli government welcomed Mr Shaath's decision but urged the Palestinian Authority to do more to end incitement.

"The comments are antithetical to anyone who believes in peaceful reconciliation," said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev.

A Jewish rights group, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, also condemned the broadcast and called on Mr Abbas to sack the head of state television.

The state broadcaster is only watched by an estimated one percent of Palestinians, who prefer Arab satellite channels.

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