I would like to applaud the decision of the US House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, made this past weekend, to freeze 370 million dollars earmarked by the State Department as a donation to the Palestinian Authority “until such time” as the Palestinian Authority proves that it is “fighting terror and incitement to violence”. This decision is important for several reasons.
First, this decision should be celebrated by all American taxpayers, who are concerned with the prospect of the US economy digging its way out of trillions of dollars of debt. Unlike the financial support provided to Israel, much of which is used to buy military technology and equipment from the US market, thus achieving two goals at once — supporting Israel’s security and creating more jobs in the US economy, the monies donated to the Palestinian Authority have actually created less stability in the region and have not helped US economic interests in any way. In fact, the Palestinian Authority has publicly and proudly used between 70 million and 100 million dollars of these donations each year to pay terrorists with blood on their hands, who are sitting in Israeli prisons just for trying to kill Jews. Does no-one else see how ridiculous this is? One hand pays to strengthen Israel’s security, while the other hand pays Israel’s enemies to carry out violent attacks against her.
Apparently many in the US House of Representatives have finally awakened to this absurdity and the counter-productivity, both economic and strategic, of the Palestinian Authority’s use of these funds.
Secondly, the idea of actually monitoring funds donated by the international community to the Palestinian Authority and leveraging such funds to advance peace, stability, and economic prosperity is quite novel. Very little of the 31 billion dollars donated by Western nations over the past twenty-one years, since the signing of the Oslo Accords, has been monitored, let alone accounted for to assure it was used to achieve the goals for which it was earmarked.
A simple calculation, taking into account historic inflation rates, will show that 15 times more money has been donated to the Palestinian Authority per capita, than all of the funds donated to Europe after World War II under the Marshall plan for the complete reconstruction of the European economy. With all of the money contributed to the Palestinian Authority, the post-World War II European economy could have been reconstructed fifteen times. Why then is the average Palestinian still living in abject poverty and, unlike their post-World War II European counterparts, still devoid of new job opportunities, modernized industry, and improved civil infrastructure? For the answer to that question, we may want to ask the Palestinian leaders, Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Mashaal, who together with their predecessor Yasser Arafat, have a combined personal net worth exceeding 6.5 billion dollars.
Properly monitored and leveraged donations have the potential to greatly improve the lives of the Palestinian people. The past unmonitored and unleveraged donations have succeeded only to wreak havoc for both the Palestinians and their Israeli neighbors.
Lastly, the whole idea behind financially supporting the Palestinian Authority following the Oslo Accords was to help it establish a healthy foundation upon which a new Palestinian State could eventually be established. That idea has been proven to be entirely impossible to implement. Very few in Israel or in the Palestinian territories actually still believe that two-states for two-peoples has the slightest chance of ever being realized. This is primarily because no Palestinian leader can agree to the establishment of a state smaller than Israel, less militarized than Israel and with 450,000 Jewish settlers living in it, and no Israeli leader can agree to a large, fully-armed Palestinian state, and none will ever have the consensus to remove all of the settlers from their homes within it. Therefore the idea behind the payments to the Palestinian Authority has died, but the money supporting the idea continues to flow in.
Apparently, international leaders are trying hard to catch up with Middle Eastern realities, but most have not yet done so. Hence, this decision by the US House of Representatives Appropriations Committee is a major step in that direction. We can only hope that the next step will be to actually start working on and investing in a viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Continuing to advocate for an impossible solution only creates frustration, friction and lack of hope on both sides of the conflict. The recent outbreak of violence has reaffirmed what psychology has known for years: hope is extremely important. Since simply maintaining the Oslo Accord’s illusory and impossible dream creates hopelessness and despair, why not work with Israeli and Palestinian leaders on alternative solutions to the two-states for two peoples solution?
Many other nations with similar ethnic, religious and national conflicts have found effective solutions other than complete separation, such as the creation of federations, cantons, autonomies and national unions. There must be a way to do this, while maintaining the integrity and character of Israel as a Jewish state and the only homeland for the Jewish people, and at the same time granting the Palestinians the level of freedom and dignity they deserve.