In his 2013 book, ‘financing the flames’, Edwin Black claims that Western tax payer funds , gifted to the Palestinian authority for humanitarian aid and development, is being diverted away from its intended destination, towards the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners. The money is then offered to Palestinian prisoners as financial compensation and reward for acts of terrorism against Israeli civilians.
These payments are extremely generous, accounting for 6 to 7% of the overall annual Palestinian budget, and budget allocation to the Ministry of Prisoners is allocated prior to other budget allocations, such as welfare, health and education. Golda Meir once famously said that there cannot be peace until the Arabs learn to love their children more than they hate the Jews and unfortunately, rewarding terrorists before ensuring children have been fed, proves that this quote still holds true today.
The most shameful aspect of this is the fact that our governments’ are aware of this practice, yet choose to deliberately ignore it. Often when confronted, politicians will deny, despite overwhelming evidence suggesting that the practice is extremely prevalent within the Palestinian Authority. Many reading this article might doubt that any Western government could knowingly allow this to occur and choose to grant governments’ the benefit of the doubt, but consider this: the program is not clandestine and the Palestinian Authority has never once denied its existence. In 2013, when Norwegian investigators inquired about the destination of Norway’s foreign aid, the Palestinian Authority was honest and upfront, which forced several Norwegian politicians to admit that Norway has indirectly sponsored terrorism. More undeniably, Edwin Black was able to obtain 5000 documents, which detail the bank transfers from this ministry to individuals who were in prison for committing acts of terrorism. The documents, approved by Abbas himself (the so called moderate), show the date of transfer, the monthly stipend and the recipient’s bank account number.
Both the fact that Western governments have turned a blind eye and the fact that the PA do not consider it necessary to operate covertly, is a grave failure of the West. Western politics today has lost its way, with electoral popularity and political opportunism superseding morality, principle and justice. Therefore, governments have cowered away from confronting this issue because they would not dare to risk losing the support of a large pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel camp, especially given that Israel and its supporters have not spoken out against this issue, largely because they remain unaware of its occurrence.
Accordingly, if we want to put pressure of our governments’ to ensure that our money is only serving humanitarian purposes, we must protest in untity. If this can be achieved, then I am sure that Western governments, who as I asserted earlier are desperate to boost electoral support, will be forced to take note and make more effort to ensure stricter rules surrounding the destination of our aid contributions. However, for this to happen, we must first ensure that this subject is firmly on the political agenda by making the public more aware of how Western foreign aid contributions are currently being spent by the Palestinian Authority. Only once the practice has been sufficiently publicised can we even think about mounting any consequential challenge upon our leaders to ensure that the practice is outlawed once and for all.