Recent moves of the US administration on the Palestinian arena (deducting $200 million from US aid and probably adopting a new approach on Palestinian refugees) are signs that as we approach the 25th anniversary of the Oslo Accords (signed on September 13 1993) there are finally international players that are ready to call a spade a spade. In this spirit, it is high time to admit that the Palestinian Authority, the main product of the agreements, is a “terror-sponsoring entity,” committed to the Palestinian struggle aimed at completely fixing the injustice it sees in Zionism. It was like that from the day it was established and it promises to stick to this identity in the future. Yet, until recently we were willfully blind to it.
The PA, repeatedly declares that it is determined to keep paying salaries to terrorists arrested in Israeli prisons or released from them, as well as to the families of terrorists who died while performing their terror attacks. PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas stated that “even if we are left with one penny, we are going to use it to pay the salaries to the (terrorist) prisoners.” This came in response to the American and Israeli awakening to the reality about the PA, as represented in the “Taylor Force Act” that denies the PA American aid until it stops paying those salaries and revokes the law according to which they are paid, and the Israeli equivalent law that deducts from the taxes collected by Israel for the PA and transferred to it the sum it pays to the terrorists (both laws were recently enacted but were not yet implemented. According to a press report American officials explained that the cut in US aid was intended to avoid the need to activate the Taylor Force Act).
In the PA 2018 budget, salaries to incarcerated and released terrorists will amount to NIS 550 million ($153 million). The amount allocated for the families of those killed or wounded in the struggle against Zionism is set at NIS 687 million ($190 million). Altogether, the expenditures for supporting terror in the 2018 Palestinian Authority budget is NIS 1.278 billion ($355 million). This sum constitutes 7 percent of the total budget, similar to the last several years, and amounts to 45.8% of foreign aid to the PA expected in 2018.
The budget for real welfare support is NIS 841 million ($233 million). In 2017, it was NIS 826 million ($229.4 million) and was used for paying 118,000 families under the poverty line NIS 750 -1,800 ($208 – $500), compared with NIS 1,400 to 12,000 ($388-$3,333) a month that is paid to an imprisoned terrorist,
These details are especially problematic as the Palestinian terror continues. Among the recipients of the salaries are the families of the terrorists who murdered Hadas Malka, a policewoman stabbed to death at the Damascus Gate on June 16, 2017, the families of the Israeli Arabs from Umm-Al-Fahm who murdered two Israeli policemen on the Temple Mount on July 14, 2017, the terrorist who murdered three members of the Solomon family on July 19, 2017, the family of the terrorist who murdered Yotam Ovadia on July 27, 2018, and many more.
This commitment manifests the Palestinian view promulgated by Palestinian law that refers to the terrorists as the “fighting sector” of the Palestinian society. This ongoing pattern stands in sharp contrast to the Palestinian commitments in the Oslo Accords and to international law and conventions.
The doctrine of appeasement that has been practiced vis-à-vis the PA has a cost — it further radicalizes the Palestinian people to accept the terror attacker as a cultural normalcy. As time goes on, more people aspire to become, or at the very least, to respect the terrorists. This is one of the greatest barriers to peace.
At the same time, Israel and the Jewish people are viewed as the aggressors because Israel is silent on the true nature of the PA.
Some may advocate that, even though we know that the PA is a terror-sponsoring entity, we should remain willfully blind because eventually we shall have to make peace with the PLO and the PA as the representatives of the Palestinians, and that telling the truth may force the collapse of the PA and its replacement with a worse alternative. Furthermore, it may radicalize the Palestinians and harm the security cooperation with the PA security forces that Israel benefits from. We believe this is wrong and costs Israel a lot in the international arena.
First, the PA has long proven itself not to be a potential partner for peace through its hate indoctrination and incitement. The repeated harsh anti-Semitic and hateful declarations of Abbas since the beginning of this year are clear evidence to that and if anybody needs further proof, the PA rejected the Obama and Kerry peace proposals, refuses to receive the Trump administration proposal for “the deal of the century,” and rejects it without even seeing it. At the same time, it vehemently opposes the idea that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people.
Secondly, there is no reason to worry about the fate of the PA. It will survive at least until Abbas leaves and if it falls, then it is going to happen because of internal power struggles and not because we tell the truth. Moreover, Israel will be able to manage its relations with the PA in the same way that it does with Hamas in Gaza, which is not a terror-sponsoring entity but simply a terror organization. The security cooperation will probably continue because it benefits the PA in its struggle against Hamas.
Waking up from this willful blindness is necessary to send the message that we are not “suckers” and to stop contending with the PA in the international arena with one hand tied behind our back. As long as Israel ignores the truth about the PA it cannot expect other countries, especially the US and Europe, to adopt policies that are based on facts and not illusions. In earnest, how can Israel say in straight face to its civilians that it is doing everything to protect them without calling the PA a terror-sponsoring entity? Only by accepting the truth can we can eventually convince the Palestinians to consider changing their policy and by that start paving the long and winding road to peace.
This essay was co-written by Sander Gerber. Sander Gerber is a fellow at the JCPA and JINSA, and the CEO of Hudson Bay Capital Management, LLC. He is the former vice chairman of the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars and a former member of the national board of AIPAC.