The UK continues to ignore bad things the PA does!

It seems that the whole world knows about and acknowledges that the leaders of the Palestinian Arabs do and say some very bad things. They claim they want peace with Israel while telling their people to hate Jews and glorify terrorists; they clamour for the release of convicted terrorists in Israeli prisons while paying them salaries for being locked up; they persecute their Christian minority and drive them out of the land; they lock up journalists for daring to criticise the regime; they suppress any free speech that is not in line with the “resistance” mantra.

The whole world knows this – except for the British Government, who continue to turn a blind eye and pay out millions of pounds to a corrupt, violent and deceitful PA leadership.

When the Department for International Development (DfID) first launched its current aid plan to the PA in 2011, they clearly stated on their website that,

Our partnership [with the PA] is set out in a Memorandum of Understanding. This sets out mutual commitments around shared principles (poverty reduction, human rights, sound financial management and accountability). It also emphasises the importance of Palestinian adherence to a political programme that uphold principles of non-violence, seeks a negotiated two state solution and respects international law, relevant resolutions, previous agreements and obligations.

After the then minister, Andrew Mitchell, was challenged to uphold this condition on UK Aid, the website mysteriously changed and much of the above was deleted to become…

Our partnership is set out in a Memorandum of Understanding. This sets out mutual commitments around shared principles (poverty reduction, human rights, sound financial management and accountability). Our State-building Grant will help them to deliver…

DfID knows it should be holding the PA to account for its abuse of the memorandum it signed to receive our money, yet refuses to do so.

Palestinian Media Watch, in a report on PA salaries aid to prisoners, quotes the very wording of the PA resolution setting out the terms of these salaries,

“The minimum salary for a prisoner, to be paid to him from the beginning of his detention and for up to 3 years, is 1,400 shekels. Prisoners who have been imprisoned between 3 and 5 years will receive 2,000 shekels. Those imprisoned between 5 and 10 years will receive 4,000 shekels. Those imprisoned between 10 and 15 years will receive 6,000 shekels. Those imprisoned between 15 and 20 years will receive 7,000 shekels. Those imprisoned between 20 and 25 years will receive 8,000 shekels. Those imprisoned between 25 and 30 years will receive 10,000 shekels. Those who have been imprisoned 30 years or more will receive 12,000 shekels.” [Government resolution # 23 of 2010, Al- Hayat Al-Jadida, April 15, 2011]

So, not only are these figures far higher than social assistance payments to families and not only are the payment clearly stated to be salaries, but the salary increase the longer the prisoner is incarcerated. In other words, the more Israelis you kill, the more you get paid!

Paying terrorists salaries from aid money is just one of the bad things the PA leadership does. Here are one or two more which, were they taking place elsewhere, would bring sharp rebukes all round.

Suppression of free speech

There have been a number of recent court cases in the PA, where individuals have been charged and punished for criticising the regime. Some Palestinian journalists, for example the high profile Khaled Abu Toameh, have been forced to live in Israel because they cannot publish anything in the PA media that could be construed as critical of the PA or its leaders.

Abu Toameh, in an article in the Jewish Press on 4th November 2012, states,

 Any Palestinian writer or journalist who dares to criticize Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his policies or demand an end to corruption will be accused of “belittling the dignity of the state.”

The same applies to Joe public in the West Bank as well.

Restriction of human rights

In its annual report to the World, Freedom House continues to rate the disputed Palestinian territories as “Not Free” – that is, “…basic political rights are absent, and basic civil liberties are widely and systematically denied” (selected data version, p4) and again rates the area on very low scales for both political and civil rights (p.19). Anecdotal evidence points to persecution of the Christian minority at local levels by ordinary Palestinians. Christians are afraid to report or talk about this, for fear of retribution later.

Perhaps the most recent example of rights abuse is the suspicious death of a Palestinian prisoner in the Palestinian prison in Jericho. Ayman Samara died mysteriously in February of this year after being found talking through the prison fence to a reporter (who was himself detained for several hours).

Incitement to violence

One of the first stipulations in the 1993 Oslo accords  was that both sides should prevent any incitement of their populations to violence or hatred towards the other side. Not only did the PA ignore this condition from the start, but 20 years on they continue to provoke and encourage incitement to violence and hatred against Israel and teach their children the same. This is clearly a major obstacle to any hope of a future peace agreement and the British Government should insist on cessation of incitement and hate education as a condition of receiving British aid.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office Human Rights and Democracy Report update for December 2012, p.2, admits that, The British Consulate General are investigating reports of a song alleged to have been played on PA radio praising suicide bombings in Israel on 1 December.” On the same page, Alistair Burt restates that “…the UK is against any comments that could stir up hatred and prejudice in a region that needs a culture of peace and mutual respect.”  

The PA-controlled media continually flout the Oslo prohibition on inciting hatred and violence against Israel. Besides some Conservative MPs, a number of excellent and well-researched reports have also highlighted this issue but DfID has so far chosen to ignore them. If the Government is committed to a peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict then the PA must be pressured to cease this incitement.

CMEW has recently raised all these issues with Justine Greening, the present UK Minister for International Development. We await her response with bated breath! You know what they say, “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”

About the Author
Nick Gray is the Director of Christian Middle East Watch (CMEW), a British Christian organisation bringing factual and balanced information and opinions to the discussion on Israel and the Middle East.