Maurice Hirsch

Mr. Prime Minister, it’s the PA that declared war on Western values

Palestinians claim to be innocent victims of financial sanctions even as they vow to spend their last penny on terrorists
Mahmoud Abbas speaking at the UN Security Council on February 20, 2018. (screen capture: UNTV)
Mahmoud Abbas speaking at the UN Security Council on February 20, 2018. (screen capture: UNTV)

In his first interview to the international press, newly appointed Palestinian Authority Prime Minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh declared that “Israel is part of the financial war that has been declared upon us by the United States. The whole system is to try to push us to surrender.”

The reality is that the PA and its leadership are responsible for their dire financial situation. Had the PA chosen to reject terrorism and abolish its “Pay for Slay” policy then the entire crises could and would have been avoided.

Trying to present the PA (and all the Palestinians for that matter) as innocent victims of unwarranted and sadistic US and Israeli policies, Shtayyeh assumes that the international community is either ignorant of the facts or simply chooses to ignore them.

Truth be told, having expressly rejected all US aid, the PA no longer receives any.

The PA rejected the aid after the US passed the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA). The Act provides that any state or body which receives US aid, inherently agrees to the jurisdiction of the US courts to consider claims against those aid recipient states for terror involvement. ATCA, which does not focus solely on the Palestinians, was passed after the PA was found to be responsible for a number of terror acts and ordered to pay over $600 million dollars in damages to the victims and their families. The PA appealed the decision on arguing that the US courts lacked jurisdiction for terror attacks in Israel, and managed, by the skin of its teeth, to overturn the decision.

By rejecting the aid, citing ATCA as the reason, the PA was clearly admitting, what was already well known: The PA is responsible for the 4 years of terror from 2000 -2004 in which 1200 Israelis were murdered, and ongoing terror since then.

Had it not made the positive choice to actively participate in terrorism, ATCA would not have been relevant and the PA could have continued to receive the US aid.

But even then the US aid would have been limited, pursuant to the Taylor Force Act (TFA).

Every year the PA squanders hundreds of millions of dollars on its “Pay for Slay” policy, paying financial incentives and rewards to Palestinian terrorists and their families. Imprisoned terrorists, including mass murderers, are paid a monthly salary that increase over time. Released prisoners are also paid a monthly salary simply because they were terrorist prisoners. The families of dead terrorists are also paid a monthly allowance.

Taylor Force was an officer in the US army and a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. On holiday in Israel, Taylor was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist. When his family understood that the PA would pay a monthly allowance to family of Taylor’s murderer they decided to act.

TFA made much of the US aid to the PA conditional on the latter abolishing its “Pay for Slay” policy. Aside from the principled stance that incentivizing and rewarding terrorism is morally repugnant, the rational was simple – If the PA has hundreds of millions of dollars a year to squander paying incentives and rewards to terrorists, it obviously does not need US aid.

Instead of heeding the warning, the PA decided to double down with PA Chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, declaring that if the PA has only one penny left in its coffers, it will be spent on the terrorists before anyone else.

In parallel to TFA, Israel also passed legislation to combat the PA’s “Pay for Slay” policy.

For years, taxes collected by Israel and transferred to the PA were used by the PA to fund its “Pay for Slay” policy. In practicality, the PA was making Israel fund the rewards it paid to the Palestinian terrorists who murdered Israeli citizens.

According to the new law, Israel will withhold every year from the taxes, a sum equivalent to the amount the PA spent on its terror rewards in the previous year. If the PA stops rewarding terrorists, it will be entitled to receive all monies withheld.

Shortly after the murder of Israeli Ori Ansbacher in February 2019 by a Palestinian terrorist, Israel’s cabinet decided to deduct 502 million shekels from the tax revenues. This was the sum the PA admitted to paying in 2018 to terrorist prisoners and released prisoners. The deductions are made in 12 installments, each of approximately 42 million shekels.

Instead of accepting the remainder – which based on the 2018 average comes to 630 million shekels a month – the PA decided to deliberately impoverish itself and reject all the funds.

Herein lies the naked truth. Israel and the US have not declared a financial war on the PA. Rather they have implemented the global financial war on terrorism and terror support. The PA, on the other hand, has actively chosen to continue supporting and rewarding terrorists, and thereby relinquish hundreds of millions of shekels and dollars.

About the Author
Lt. Col. (res) Maurice Hirsch is the Director of the Initiative for Palestinian Authority Accountability and Reform in the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, a Senior Legal Analyst at Human Rights Voices and a member of the Israel Defense and Security Forum. He served for 19 years in the IDF Military Advocate General Corps. In his last position he served as Director of the Military Prosecution in Judea and Samaria.
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