Archive for the ‘Palestinian heroes in Israeli jails’ category

INTO THE FRAY: The Taylor Force Act – Putting “Palestine” in perspective

September 1, 2017

INTO THE FRAY: The Taylor Force Act – Putting “Palestine” in perspective, Israel National News, Dr. Martin Sherman, September 1, 2017

The proposed bill, which was recently passed in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with overwhelming bipartisan support, is designed to stop American financial aid to the Palestinian Authority [PA] until it ceases its generous payments to individuals who commit acts of terrorism and to the families of deceased terrorists.

Perversely, under the prevailing conditions, the more gruesome the act of terror and the longer the sentence imposed on the perpetrator, the greater the remuneration!

Indeed, as the Wall Street Journal points out, under existing circumstances, “U.S. aid becomes a transfer payment for terrorists”.

This is clearly an unconscionable situation and hence legislation to contend with it, and correct it, was not only appropriate, but imperative.

At the end of the day, the clash between Jew and Arab over the Holy Land is a clash between two collectives. For the Jewish collective, the Palestinian collective is—and must be treated as it sees itself: An implacable enemy, not a prospective peace partner.

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Congress is finally considering legislation to stop the Palestinian Authority from incentivizing violence…This has to stop, and the Taylor Force Act…attempts to do that. As it currently stands, the act would cut U.S. foreign assistance to the ‘West Bank’ and Gaza in its entirety if the “payments for acts of terrorism against United States and Israeli citizens …do not stop…. There should definitely be no ‘pay to slay’, but…[b]eing smart counts for more than being right. And the smart approach is one that also recognizes that innocent Palestinians…should not be forced to pay for the mistakes of a government they cannot control. – David Makovsky et al“The Smart Way to End ‘Pay to Slay’”, Foreign Policy, August 2, 2017.

Lesley Stahl, on CBS’s 60 Minutes on the effects of US led sanctions against Iraq (May 12, 1996): We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?” 

Madelaine Albright, then U.S. ambassador to the United Nations , subsequently President Clinton’s Secretary of State: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price — we think the price is worth it.

Recently, three members of the well-known think-tank, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, posted an article on the new legislative initiative, named the Taylor Force Act after the West Point graduate and veteran, who was killed in a terrorist attack in Israel last year.

Appropriate and imperative

The proposed bill, which was recently passed in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with overwhelming bipartisan support, is designed to stop American financial aid to the Palestinian Authority [PA] until it ceases its generous payments to individuals who commit acts of terrorism and to the families of deceased terrorists.

Perversely, under the prevailing conditions, the more gruesome the act of terror and the longer the sentence imposed on the perpetrator, the greater the remuneration!

Indeed, as the Wall Street Journal points out, under existing circumstances, “U.S. aid becomes a transfer payment for terrorists”.

This is clearly an unconscionable situation and hence legislation to contend with it, and correct it, was not only appropriate, but imperative.

The need for a punitive response to the egregious “pay for slay” custom of the PA was conceded by the previously mentioned Washington Institute article, entitled “The Smart Way to End ‘Pay to Slay’”.

Penned by David Makovsky,  distinguished fellow  and director of the project on the Middle East Peace Process, veteran diplomat Dennis Ross, distinguished fellow and counsellor on the U.S.-Israel Strategic Relationship, and Lia Weiner, a research assistant, it clearly proclaims “There should definitely be no ‘pay to slay’… This has to stop.”

“…the ‘mistakes’ of a government they cannot control”.

However, it cautions against an across-the-board cessation of US funds to the PA, calling for a more nuanced (read “watered-down”) application of the punitive cuts: “Threats of sweeping cuts to Palestinian aid may hurt the cause more than they help.” They warn that “To entirely defund U.S. aid to the ‘West Bank’ and Gaza is…to halt economic and social progress there”, proposing instead an approach that “recognizes that innocent Palestinians…should not be forced to pay for the mistakes of a government they cannot control”.

But making the innocent members of the population pay for the nefarious deeds of governments they “cannot control” has been the hall mark of American policy across the globe for years—even when those governments have been far more tyrannical than the PA.

Indeed, why should “innocent Palestinians” merit greater consideration than “innocents”   in a range of despotic regimes against which the US has imposed punishing, at times crippling, economic penalties—such as Iraq, Iran and North Korea?

For example the US-led UN sanctions against Saddam Hussein-controlled Iraq inflicted wide-spread suffering (see introductory excerpt) on innocent Iraqis—including women, infants and the elderly—who, arguably, had much less chance of influencing the actions of their government than do the “innocent Palestinians” with regard to Abbas’s PA.

A government reflecting popular preferences

Indeed, while it is true that they “have not been able to vote in an election for more than a decade”, and to a large measure cannot “control” the current PA government, they certainly did empower it.  In fact, it is in many ways, a government of their making—and theirs alone.

After all, in the last elections held in 2006, the Islamist terror organization Hamas and PA president Abbas’s Fatah won just over 90% of the vote—with the former winning 74 and the later 45 of the 132 seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council. Interestingly, the third largest party was a faction representing the radical hardline Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a terrorist group founded by the infamous George Habash and headed today by Ahmed Saadat, currently in an Israeli prison for his part in planning the 2001 assassination of Israeli minister, Rehavam Zeevi .

Moreover, parties focusing on socio-economic reforms and human rights fared extremely poorly. Thus, the “Third Way” headed by former PA prime minister Salam Fayyad and a former PA Minister, the well-known Hanan Ashrawi, won a paltry 2 seats, while the National Coalition for Justice and Democracy,  headed by prominent physician and human rights activist  Eyad El-Sarraj won, well…none

“Palestine”: What the polls predict

However, not only did the last elections show a vast endorsement of rejectionist views (both Fatah and Hamas –and the PFLP–vehemently reject any recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jews), but recent public opinion polls provide little cause for optimism that this is likely to change.Indeed, should Abbas leave his post, the most popular candidates are Fatah’s Marwan Barghouti, currently serving multiple life sentences in Israel for a myriad of lethal acts of terror, and Hamas’s Ismail Haniyeh. 

Moreover, findings for legislatives elections show that almost 70% would vote for either Fatah or Hamas, 10% for all other parties, with over 20% being undecided.

Thus, there is little reason to believe that—were new elections to be held—they would produce a sea-change for the better in the composition of the PA, or its policy.  In fact, there is considerable room for concern that the very opposite might well be true.

But perhaps most damaging to Makovsky, Ross and Weiner’s contention that “innocent Palestinians…should not be forced to pay for the mistakes of a government they cannot control” is the finding that there is near unanimous public endorsement  for the very financial support that the Taylor Force Act is intended to terminate.

“Pay to Slay” & Vox Populi 

Stunningly (or not), a July 2017 survey by Palestinian Center of Policy and Survey Research, headed by the well-known Palestinian pollster, Dr. Khalil Shikaki, found that “an almost total consensus rejects pressure on the PA to terminate payments to Palestinian security prisoners” and   “91% are opposed to the suspension of PA payments to Palestinian security prisoners [i.e. jailed terrorists- MS] in Israeli jails; only 7% support such measure”.

This is precisely the reality mirrored in an article that appeared in Tablet Magazine this week by Alex Kane, according to which” the prisoner payment program is one of the most popular PA programs, and it would be political suicide for the PA to halt it.

So, in stark contradiction to the impression conveyed by Makovsky, Ross and Weiner, the “pay to slay” policy is not something foisted on a reluctant peace-seeking  “innocent” Palestinian population , but is, in fact enthusiastically embraced by it—reflecting nothing more (or less) than vox populi.

Indeed, it is more than a little disturbing to see such “luminaries” as Makovsky and Ross propagating views demonstrably detached from reality, in what appears to be  a misplaced endeavor to create the false impression that, overall, the Palestinians,  share their  worldview—when, in fact,  they clearly seem to have a very different one…

Self-contradictory, self-obstructive “rationale”

But beyond the fact that their contentions sit uneasily with the empirical evidence, they appear to have additional disconcerting implications. Thus, they endorse the view that “although a tough message [should be] sent to the PA about the consequences of incentivizing violence”, they recommend that measures undertaken should “prevent any deterioration in the quality of life for Palestinians lest that lead to greater radicalization”.

This appears to reflect a curious rationale which suggests that if one is punished for bad behavior, then one’s behavior will become…worse???

This never was a consideration in, say, Serbia, where markets, hospitals, buses, bridges and old age facilities—to name but a few civilian targets that were hit in high altitude bombing sorties in the US-led NATO attacks in the Balkans War of the 1990s.

Indeed, the claim that harsh punitive measures against an authoritarian regime will only make the regime –or the population under its control—more recalcitrant flies in the face of the most basic elements of deterrence theory. After all, if the threat of harsh measures cannot coerce the regime to modify its behavior, why should measures less harsh do the trick?

Moreover, if the collective is not forced to feel the consequences of actions carried out in its name- there is clearly no reason for these actions to cease.  This is particularly true in the case of the “pay to slay” practice, which, while it may be implemented by an authoritarian regime, is widely endorsed by the general public. In this context, the rationale advanced by Makovsky, Ross et al appears to be at once both self-contradictory and self-obstructive.

 Clash of collectives 

It is of course somewhat discomforting to see such well-placed and well-connected pundits misread the lay-of-the-land so profoundly. For such gross misperception can only help perpetuate the conflict and its attendant suffering.

Firstly, these misperceptions nourish the false premise that privation drives radicalization, which is clearly disproven by the radicalization of many seemingly well-integrated Muslim youth in Europe, and the fact that in several Arab countries the greatest animosity towards Israel is harbored by the professional, well-to-do echelons of society.

Secondly, they obscure the real nature of the Israel-Arab conflict and hence, hamper the efforts to bring it to an end—diverting efforts toward bogus “causes”.

In this regard, then-defense minister Moshe-“Bogey” Yaalon, in a November 2015 address, correctly diagnosed the conflict as a clash of collectives i.e.  “…predominantly a war of wills, of two societies with conflicting wills”.

But, if the clash is essentially one between collectives, surely victory will require one collective breaking the will of the rival collective. Accordingly, ensuring that said rival can maintain its daily routine hardly seems the most promising stratagem to adopt in an effort to break its will and achieve victory.Indeed, if anything, it would seem the exigencies for a collective victory over an adversarial collective would dictate the diametrically opposite endeavor – disrupt the daily routine of the adversary. After all, misdeeds perpetrated in the name of the Palestinian collective must carry a price, which the collective pays – for if not, it will have no incentive to curb them.

Implacable enemy not prospective peace partner

The Palestinian population is thus not some hapless victim of the terror groups, as some might suggest but the very crucible from which such groups have emerged. It has by its own hand, by its deeds and declarations, made it clear that it will not—except on some temporary, tactical basis –brook any manifestation of Jewish political independence/national sovereignty) “between the River and the Sea”.

At the end of the day, the clash between Jew and Arab over the Holy Land is a clash between two collectives. For the Jewish collective, the Palestinian collective is—and must be treated as it sees itself: An implacable enemy, not a prospective peace partner.

Accordingly, the conflict, as one between collectives cannot be individualized .One collective must emerge victorious, the other vanquished. Only then, after victory/defeat, can the issue of personal misfortune be addressed.

This, then, is the perspective in which Palestinian society must be placed—and the perspective from which the formulation of the Taylor Force Act be addressed.

Martin Sherman is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.

Palestinian Authority Payments to Terrorists Far Exceed Regular Welfare

August 22, 2017

Palestinian Authority Payments to Terrorists Far Exceed Regular Welfare, Investigative Project on Terrorism, August 22, 2017

Palestinian terrorists and their families are receiving far higher payments than welfare recipients, according to an analysis of the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) budget by The Middle East Media Research Institute.

A family on welfare receives less than $170 per month, while the PA pays Palestinian prisoners a maximum monthly payment of roughly $3,340 – more than 20 times more than a needy Palestinian family. By amending the Palestinian Prisoners Law in 2010, PA President Mahmoud Abbas increased monthly installments from approximately $275-$1,110 per month to $390-$3,340.

Payments to current and former Palestinian prisoners fall under the “fighting sector” category and terrorists’ families receive a “monthly salary,” while poor families receive quarterly “monetary aid.”

The practice triggered a civil lawsuit by American victims of Palestinian terrorism. A jury awarded the victims $210 million in damages, which under law would be tripled. Evidence indicated that payments from the second Palestinian intifada were approvedby then-PA President Yasir Arafat. But an appeals court found the U.S. District Court in New York lacked the jurisdiction to hear the case, wiping out the judgment.

Today, a terrorist’s socioeconomic status is not factored into the salaries. Payments to released prisoners and jailed Palestinians are based on the length of a prison sentence, which is a function of their action’s severity. The more brutal the attack or murder, the more money a Palestinian prisoner gets. Even jailed Israeli Arabs receive terror salaries – almost $140 more than prisoners with PA residency. The detailed PA budget is concrete proof that the Palestinian government systematically incentivizes terrorism through financial compensation.

This comes as a U.S. Senate committee approved legislation earlier this month to suspend aid to the PA until it stops its financial support programs for Palestinian terrorists and their families. The PA budget clearly shows how the PA prioritizes segments of Palestinian society – people who try or succeed in killing Israelis above all else.

In May, President Trump tried to pressure Abbas, his PA counterpart, to end the terrorist payments. A top PA aide called the idea “insane.”

In June, Palestinian sources revealed that Abbas refused another U.S. demand to halt the practice of paying terrorist salaries. Reports in Arabic media, according to The Times of Israel, suggest that an American delegation eventually reduced its demands and insisted that the PA only cut payments to roughly 600 prisoners directly responsible for the Israeli deaths. The day after the meeting, Abbas defended issuing salaries to all Palestinian prisoners and terrorists as a “social responsibility.”

Funding Terrorism to Fight Terrorism

July 18, 2017

Funding Terrorism to Fight Terrorism, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Greenfield, July 18, 2017

AIPAC hasn’t gotten behind the Taylor Force Act. Instead it’s holding out for some “revised” version that would make it meaningless while attracting bipartisan support. Meaningless pro-Israel measures that pass with huge majorities are AIPAC’s bread and butter. They’re its political Potemkin villages.

The ideal Taylor Force Act, according to AIPAC, most Democrats and some Republicans, would condemn terrorism without cutting a cent in foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority. It would contain a national security waiver and plenty of gimmicks that would actually increase funding for terror.

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Master Sgt. Haiel Sitawe, the father of a newborn baby, and Kamil Shnaan, who was newly engaged, were murdered in an Islamic terrorist attack in Jerusalem. The two Israeli police officers were members of the Druze community in Israel. The terrorists who shot them were killed by other police officers.

While Israel will compensate the families of the dead police officers, the Palestinian Authority will compensate the families of the terrorists. And American taxpayers will compensate both.

This is typical of a foreign policy in which we fund both the terrorists and the terrorized.

Sooner or later, we are going to have to choose a side.

This mad policy is facing its biggest threat with the Taylor Force Act. The bill, named after a murdered Afghanistan and Iraq War veteran stabbed to death in Tel Aviv, would strip funding from the Palestinian Authority unless the terror state stops giving money to terrorists and their families for their crimes.

The Taylor Force Act has plenty of support in Congress. But the Palestinian Authority has made it abundantly clear that it will not stop paying terrorists to kill Israelis. PA terror boss Abbas is gambling that our politicians will blink first rather than stop sending him hundreds of millions of dollars.

And the tragedy of it is that he appears to be right.

Everyone condemns the Palestinian Authority’s policy of funding terrorists. Typical adjectives include “abhorrent” and “abominable”. But don’t expect them to actually cut off the cash.

Senators are scurrying to neuter the Taylor Force Act. There are dire warnings that if we stop funding the biggest Islamic terrorist group in Israel, it will collapse and make way for more terrorism.

If we don’t stop giving Islamic terrorists money to commit terrorism… the terrorists will win.

This sums up the insanity of our foreign policy in which we fund terrorism to fight terrorism, and in which the “moderate” Islamic terrorists of the Palestinian Authority and the Muslim Brotherhood are our best hope for restraining the really scary “extremist” Islamic terrorists of ISIS and Al Qaeda.

Senators have been complaining about the act’s “All or nothing” approach. All or nothing means that the Palestinian Authority would have to stop funding terror or lose funding. And since the Palestinian Authority won’t stop funding terror and they don’t want to cut its funding, they hate all or nothing.

AIPAC hasn’t gotten behind the Taylor Force Act. Instead it’s holding out for some “revised” version that would make it meaningless while attracting bipartisan support. Meaningless pro-Israel measures that pass with huge majorities are AIPAC’s bread and butter. They’re its political Potemkin villages.

The ideal Taylor Force Act, according to AIPAC, most Democrats and some Republicans, would condemn terrorism without cutting a cent in foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority. It would contain a national security waiver and plenty of gimmicks that would actually increase funding for terror.

Instead of the Taylor Force Act, the call is on for a “Taylor Force like” bill that would be like it the way that a $25 Rolex being peddled from a wheelbarrow outside Central Park is like a real Rolex.

There are calls for a more “targeted” bill that would go after some, but not all of the PA’s funding.

But what would a targeted bill actually target? There are calls to exempt humanitarian aid. Never mind that much of the humanitarian aid really finds its way into the pockets of PA and Hamas leaders. Then there is the “security assistance” that enables the terrorists to pretend to fight terrorism.

And then there’s all the institutional support to maintain the corrupt authoritarian institutions of the PA while still providing all of the social services that the PA is supposed to provide, but doesn’t. We have to build roads and schools, and provide electricity and fund hospitals for our worst enemies.

If we can’t cut social services to the biggest terrorist welfare state in the world or security assistance to its terrorist armies, what can we cut?

You guessed it. Nothing.

Cut social services and we’ll just “radicalize” and “embitter” them further. Cut security assistance and they’ll have no choice but to resort to more terrorism. What can we do except give them more money?

A Taylor Force like bill will just move money around. And nothing will change. Senators will pat themselves on the back. And the State Department will see to it that the terror funding continues.

Just to make a madly irrational policy even more absurdly insane, critics of the Taylor Force Act claim that ending funding for terror will undermine Israeli security. The basis for this claim comes from what is usually described in umpteen news stories as a coalition of retired Israeli military officers.

But Caroline Glick has already exposed Commanders for Israel’s Security as a left-wing group with links to Obama and Soros. CIS holds positions that undermine Israeli security. And it’s part of a pattern of recruiting retired Israeli security personnel and military people as fronts for anti-Israel agendas.

Prime Minister Netanyahu supports the Taylor Force Act. As do top former military officials. The first name on the list belonged to former Defense Minister Ya’alon; no friend of Netanyahu. The letter concludes by noting that, “The Knesset is considering passage of a law calling for deducting the amount the PA pays terrorists from the money Israel transfers to the PA. It is legislation sponsored by members of all parties, except the far-left Meretz and the Joint Arab List.”

And yet we have politicians and pundits who insist that “we should listen to the Israelis” and keep on funding the PLO. The “Israelis” they want us to listen to are not the country’s elected government and its voters, but a fake organization with an agenda and links to Israel’s opponents.

And so here we are funding terrorism to fight terrorism and listening to Israelis by ignoring them.

Sarah Yerkes of the Brookings Institution and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace argues that threatening to defund the PA unless it stops funding terrorism could lead to it refusing to change its policy of funding terrorism. If the PA doesn’t stop financing terror out of the goodness of its heart, we’re utterly helpless to do anything except keep shoving more money into its dirty and bloody hands.

The consequences of not funding terrorism are too terrifying to contemplate. What else can we possibly do except nothing?

Cutting off money to the terrorists would just lead to more terrorism. That’s the sum of all the arguments. And there’s a word for it. Blackmail.

We can’t figure out how to stop paying blackmail money to Islamic terrorists. The most powerful nation on earth can’t stop writing big checks to one of the oldest active Islamic terror groups on the planet.

But it’s easy. You just stop sending the checks.

You stop worrying about stability, further radicalization and an imaginary peace process. You can’t buy stability by paying the biggest terrorist group to keep the smaller ones down. If you’re going to do that, you might as well start subsidizing the mafia to keep other criminals in line.

The PA, Fatah and the PLO constantly promote and celebrate Islamic terrorism. They’re not as bad as ISIS, but does that mean we should be funding every Islamic terrorist group less terrible than ISIS?

Finally, if the PA won’t stop funding Islamic terrorists who kill Israelis decades after signing what was supposed to be a peace accord with Israel, talk of a peace process is hollow nonsense.

The United States shouldn’t need a special bill to defund an Islamic terrorist group that has murdered many Americans over the years. We can’t end terrorism tomorrow. But we can at least stop funding it.

If only we can figure out how to stop writing the checks.

Peace is light-years away

July 14, 2017

Peace is light-years away, Israel Hayom, Ruthie Blum, July 14, 2017

(Israel: give, give, give. Palestinians: take, take, take. But no peace. — DM)

So far, however, all Abbas has done is call the shots on the venue of a meeting ‎between his honchos and Trump’s team, agree to water and electricity deals that ‎benefit the PA and give the White House cause for false optimism. Undoubtedly, ‎he has already figured out how to get around the Taylor Force Act, if and when it ‎passes. A revised, bipartisan version of the bill, in particular — geared toward ‎guaranteeing that ordinary Palestinians are not robbed of humanitarian services ‎as a result of their leaders’ violations — will provide him with sufficient loopholes ‎to keep his “martyrs” in clover.‎

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If the leaders of the Palestinian Authority had invested as much time, energy and ‎other people’s money in building a flourishing society as they do in the pursuit of ‎death and destruction, there would be no need for outside efforts to broker ‎peace between them and their Israeli counterparts. It takes only about 30 minutes ‎to drive from the Muqataa compound in Ramallah to the Prime Minister’s Office in ‎Jerusalem. Yet it is still easier for dignitaries from the United States and Europe to ‎spend hours on flights to Tel Aviv for the purpose of talking about a two-state ‎solution than it is for PA President Mahmoud Abbas to budge in any direction ‎other than backwards. ‎

Take this week, for instance, which began with the Palestinians’ refusal to host ‎U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman — whom U.S. President Donald Trump ‎has included in his Mideast peacemaking team, along with advisers Jason ‎Greenblatt and Jared Kushner — in Ramallah. Friedman is too pro-Israel, as far as ‎Abbas is concerned. As a result, the meeting between American and Palestinian ‎officials on Tuesday took place at the King David Hotel in west Jerusalem. ‎

On Thursday, Greenblatt joined fellow envoys of the Middle East Quartet — the ‎U.S. (which he represents), the European Union, the United Nations and Russia — ‎in Jerusalem “to discuss current efforts to advance Middle East peace, as well as ‎the deteriorating situation in Gaza.”‎

Also on Thursday, Greenblatt announced that Israel had agreed to sell the PA 1.2 ‎billion cubic feet of water. This, he said, in addition to an electricity deal reached ‎between Israel and the PA on Monday, will improve the Palestinians’ standard of ‎living.‎

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, the Senate Foreign Relations ‎Committee conducted a hearing on the proposed Taylor Force Act, named after ‎the former U.S. Army officer who — while on a trip to Israel in March 2016 — was ‎stabbed to death by a knife-wielding Palestinian on a rampage in Tel Aviv. The bill, ‎co-sponsored by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Dan Coats (R-‎Ind.) and Roy Blunt (R-Miss.), aims to halt American aid to the PA until it ‎stops paying salaries and stipends to imprisoned terrorists and the families of ‎those “martyred” while murdering Israelis. ‎

Testifying before the committee on behalf of the bill, Senior Fellow for Middle ‎Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations Elliott Abrams — who served as ‎deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser in the ‎George W. Bush administration — railed against the “Palestinian practice of ‎making payments to individuals convicted of acts of terror, and their families or ‎survivors, in accordance with the severity of their acts and the length of their ‎sentences.” The “predictable effect of this practice,” he said, “is to reward and ‎incentivize acts of terror.”‎

Pointing to the billions of dollars that the U.S. has poured into the PA since its ‎establishment in the 1990s, Abrams said, “As long as the Palestinian government ‎is in effect rewarding terror, we need to be sure we make our objections — our ‎condemnation — known, and that cannot be merely in words. Our assistance ‎program must reflect our feeling of repugnance.” He then proposed a revision to ‎the bill that would enable the U.S. to continue funding hospitals and other ‎projects that benefit the Palestinian people, while preventing the money from ‎lining the pockets of corrupt bureaucrats.‎

Whether this carrot-and-stick approach to the PA was purposeful or inadvertent ‎is unclear. What is certain, however, is that the PA president is not turning over a ‎new leaf. Earlier this month, as Palestinian Media Watch reported, Abbas ‎was quoted on Fatah’s official Facebook page as proclaiming: “Even if I have to ‎leave my position, I will not compromise on the salary of a martyr or a prisoner, ‎as I am the president of the entire Palestinian people, including the prisoners, the ‎martyrs, the injured, the expelled and the uprooted.”‎

This sentiment was echoed recently by PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. ‎Hamdallah — who launched the first-ever Palestinian-owned power substation in ‎Jenin with Israeli National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources Minister ‎Yuval Steinitz on Monday, and signed the electricity deal touted by Greenblatt — ‎vowed last month to continue rewarding terrorists.‎

On June 16, according to PMW, the official PA newspaper quoted Hamdallah ‎announcing: “On behalf of … Abbas and our Palestinian people, I salute all of the ‎martyrs’ families … [and] emphasize to them that their rights are protected. … We ‎remember the sacrifices and struggle of the pure martyrs, guardians of the land ‎and identity, who have turned our people’s cause into a historical epic of struggle ‎and resolve.”‎

Hamdallah’s reassurance came on the heels of U.S. Secretary of State Rex ‎Tillerson’s claim that the PA’s “intent is to cease the payments to the families of ‎those who have committed murder or violence against others.” Ironically, both ‎Israeli and Palestinian officials were incensed by the statement, and Tillerson was ‎forced to modify it. Washington and Ramallah — he said the following day — are ‎engaged in an “active discussion” on the matter.‎

So far, however, all Abbas has done is call the shots on the venue of a meeting ‎between his honchos and Trump’s team, agree to water and electricity deals that ‎benefit the PA and give the White House cause for false optimism. Undoubtedly, ‎he has already figured out how to get around the Taylor Force Act, if and when it ‎passes. A revised, bipartisan version of the bill, in particular — geared toward ‎guaranteeing that ordinary Palestinians are not robbed of humanitarian services ‎as a result of their leaders’ violations — will provide him with sufficient loopholes ‎to keep his “martyrs” in clover.‎

Ramallah may be a mere 10 miles from Jerusalem, but it — ‎like peace — is light-years away.‎

Obama’s Anti-Israel Diplomats Want to Gut Taylor Force Act

July 2, 2017

Obama’s Anti-Israel Diplomats Want to Gut Taylor Force Act, The Point (Front Page Magazine), Daniel Greenfield, July 2, 2017

It was only a matter of time.

The Taylor Force Act, which demands that the PLO stop funding terror or lose US taxpayer cash, is picking up steam. So the usual anti-Israel crowd is crawling into action.

Obama’s errand boy to Israel, Dan Shapiro and Ilan Goldenberg, who describes himself as a “former deep stater” on his Twitter profile, have a call to neuter it in Foreign Policy. The game plan is everything you would expect.

Warn about “instability” if the terrorists don’t get their cash. Cite Israeli lefties who warn against it. And then suggest a “national security waiver”. That waiver is why the embassy still isn’t in Jerusalem.

Also there are warnings that the US wouldn’t be able to provide “humanitarian aid” to Gaza the next time Hamas gets bombed. And, worst of all, the terrorists might stop accepting our money to train their terrorists.

This is an actual argument that Shapiro and Goldenberg make.

“But if security assistance is the only U.S. support that remains, and no other economic benefits for the Palestinians materialize, then it becomes politically much more difficult for the Palestinian leadership to accept these funds and continue the program.”

If we don’t give the terrorists more money to shove into their Swiss bank accounts under the guise of “improving life for Palestinians”, they won’t take our money to train their terrorists.

This isn’t an argument. This is a Monty Python skit. But what else would one expect from the author of “Why Israel’s Settlement Construction Must Be Stopped” and “How Israel Brought U.N. Resolution on Itself With Irrational Settlement Push”

Trump’s productive Middle East failure

June 30, 2017

Trump’s productive Middle East failure, Israel Hayom, Jonathan S. Tobin, June 30, 2017

What the Palestinians fail to understand is that ending PA support for terror is itself a core ‎issue that must be addressed now, and it is not a distraction from the real diplomatic ‎agenda.‎

It’s hardly surprising that the Palestinians are having trouble adjusting to the ‎administration’s mindset. Since neither the Americans nor the Europeans have ‎been much interested in the Palestinians’ terror payments and incitement, they seem to view ‎Trump’s focus on those issues as an indication that he is in Israel’s pocket. Former President Barack Obama was obsessed with the idea that pressure on Israel was ‎the key to peace and was willing to give the Palestinians a pass on anything they ‎did. But Trump rightly understands that as long as the Palestinians are funding ‎terror — and doing so with money given them by the West — they can’t be ‎considered serious about peace.‎

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It didn’t take long for the bubble to burst. The chance of U.S. President Donald Trump achieving a breakthrough in Middle East peace that had eluded all his ‎predecessors was always slim. But reports about Palestinian Authority President ‎Mahmoud Abbas yelling at presidential adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner during ‎their meeting last week may signal that the Trump initiative is over even ‎before it begins.‎

The president’s critics should acknowledge that even if the effort was ‎bound to end in failure, it nevertheless points toward the only way peace can be ‎achieved. By focusing on the Palestinians’ willingness to foment and subsidize ‎terror, the U.S. has exposed a key problem that the Obama administration ignored. ‎Rather than this obstructing peace, it is an important step without ‎which genuine progress toward ending the conflict will be impossible.‎

The meeting between Kushner and Abbas went badly. The Palestinians were ‎shocked that Kushner followed up on the key sticking point that had arisen ‎between Trump and the Palestinian leader during their two meetings in May. ‎Abbas claimed during their first encounter in the White House that the PA was not ‎engaging in incitement to hatred against Israelis and that it did not pay salaries or ‎pensions to terrorists and their families. By the time they met again, Trump had ‎learned that Abbas had lied to him about both issues and reportedly pounded the ‎table as he demanded that the Palestinian leader end these practices.‎

But when Kushner and chief U.S. peace negotiator Jason Greenblatt raised the issue ‎again with Abbas, the Palestinians were angry. As far as Abbas ‎was concerned, the Americans were merely relaying a list of demands from Israeli ‎Prime Minister Netanyahu, when Abbas had been expecting to hear about American ‎positions on “core issues of the conflict,” by which he meant strategies to stop ‎Israel from building in the West Bank and push it back to the 1967 ‎borders.‎

What the Palestinians fail to understand is that ending PA support for terror is itself a core ‎issue that must be addressed now, and it is not a distraction from the real diplomatic ‎agenda.‎

It’s hardly surprising that the Palestinians are having trouble adjusting to the ‎administration’s mindset. Since neither the Americans nor the Europeans have ‎been much interested in the Palestinians’ terror payments and incitement, they seem to view ‎Trump’s focus on those issues as an indication that he is in Israel’s pocket. Former President Barack Obama was obsessed with the idea that pressure on Israel was ‎the key to peace and was willing to give the Palestinians a pass on anything they ‎did. But Trump rightly understands that as long as the Palestinians are funding ‎terror — and doing so with money given them by the West — they can’t be ‎considered serious about peace.‎

The administration denies reports that it is considering backing away from the ‎push for negotiations. But the president may realize that his statement after his ‎first meeting with Abbas, in which he claimed that Middle East peace “is not as ‎difficult as most people thought,” was more than premature. ‎

While few thought his willingness to prioritize the peace process was likely to be ‎rewarded with success, his thinking that the time is ripe for a breakthrough was rational. With Sunni Arab states now looking at Israel as an ally against the ‎threat from Iran, it was reasonable to suppose that this confluence of ‎interests might result in an effort to pressure the Palestinians to settle their dispute ‎with Israel.

However, the theory that the Palestinians can be either pushed or ‎bribed by the Saudis into making peace is now being called into doubt.‎

As long as the Palestinians cling to the idea that their national identity is inextricably tied up with the ‎century-long war on Zionism, peace will remain a pipe dream. Neither Trump’s threats ‎nor the efforts of the Saudis are likely to persuade them to abandon a political ‎culture in which incitement and pensions for terrorists — on which they have ‎lavished more than $1.1 billion in just the last four years — are seen as laudable. ‎Trump is asking Abbas for something he cannot do and still ‎survive in power.‎

But with Congress looking to tie his hands by considering legislation that would ‎end U.S. aid unless the Palestinians stop the terror payments, Trump may not be ‎willing to let this issue drop. If so, his efforts won’t lead to the “ultimate deal” he ‎longs to broker, but it will lay the foundation for more realism about the peace ‎process. It will also put the Palestinians on ‎notice about what they must do if they genuinely want a two-state solution.‎

Jonathan S. Tobin is the opinion editor of JNS.org and a contributing writer for ‎National Review. 

The PLO’s IDF Lobbyists

June 27, 2017

The PLO’s IDF Lobbyists, Front Page MagazineCaroline Glick, June 27, 2017

(The Israeli deep state? — DM)

CIS is a consortium of 260 left-wing retired security brass. It formed just before the 2015 elections. CIS refuses to reveal its funding sources. Several of its most visible members worked with the Obama administration through the George Soros-funded Center for a New American Security.

Since its inception, CIS has effectively served as a PLO lobby. It supports Israeli land giveaways and insists that Israel can do without a defensible eastern border.

Last Wednesday CIS released a common-sense defying statement opposing the Taylor Force Act.

The generals mind-numbingly insisted the US must continue paying the terrorism-financing PA because Israel needs the help of the terrorism-incentivizing PA to fight the terrorists the PA incentivizes. If the US cuts off funding to the PA because it incentivizes terrorism, then the PA will refuse to cooperate with Israel in fighting the terrorism it incentivizes.

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How radicalized Israeli generals are furthering the cause of Palestinian terrorists.

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

Should the United States pay Palestinian terrorists? For the overwhelming majority of Americans and Israelis this is a rhetorical question.

The position of the American people was made clear – yet again – last week when US President Donald Trump’s senior envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt met with Palestinian Authority chairman and PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas and repeated Trump’s demand that the PA cut off the payments.

Not only did Abbas reject their demand, he reportedly accused the presidential envoys of working as Israeli agents.

Abbas’s treatment of Kushner and Greenblatt was in line with his refusal to even meet with US Ambassador David Friedman, reportedly because he doesn’t like Friedman’s views.

The most amazing aspect of Abbas’s contemptuous treatment of the Trump administration is that he abuses Trump and his senior advisers while demanding that Trump continue funding him in excess of half a billion dollars a year, and do so in contravention of the will of the Republican-controlled Congress.

Abbas’s meeting last week took place as the Taylor Force Act makes its way through Congress.

Named for Taylor Force, the West Point graduate and US army veteran who was murdered in March 2016 in Tel Aviv by a Palestinian terrorist, the Taylor Force Act will end US funding of the PA until it ends its payments to terrorists and their families – including the family of Force’s murderer Bashar Masalha.

The Taylor Force Act enjoys bipartisan majority support in both the House and the Senate. It is also supported by the Israeli government.

Given the stakes, what could possibly have possessed Abbas to believe he can get away with mistreating Trump and his envoys? Who does he think will save him from Congress and the White House? Enter Commanders for Israel’s Security (CIS), stage left.

CIS is a consortium of 260 left-wing retired security brass. It formed just before the 2015 elections. CIS refuses to reveal its funding sources. Several of its most visible members worked with the Obama administration through the George Soros-funded Center for a New American Security.

Since its inception, CIS has effectively served as a PLO lobby. It supports Israeli land giveaways and insists that Israel can do without a defensible eastern border.

Last Wednesday CIS released a common-sense defying statement opposing the Taylor Force Act.

The generals mind-numbingly insisted the US must continue paying the terrorism-financing PA because Israel needs the help of the terrorism-incentivizing PA to fight the terrorists the PA incentivizes. If the US cuts off funding to the PA because it incentivizes terrorism, then the PA will refuse to cooperate with Israel in fighting the terrorism it incentivizes.

If you fail to follow this logic, well, you don’t have what it takes to be an Israeli general.

Moreover, if you fail to follow this logic, and you defy the position of Israel’s retired generals, then you may well endanger Israel.

After all, they know what’s best even better than the Israeli government because they are retired Israeli generals.

The CIS group would be bad enough for Israel on its own. But unfortunately, the radical politics of its members – and their anonymous funders – are all too resonant inside of the IDF itself.

And just as CIS members use the ranks they received in the past to undermine the powers of the government today, so the current crop of serving generals use their positions to advance policies that are contrary to the expressed position of the government.

This is nowhere more evident than in the behavior of the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria.

Until Israel formed the PLO-controlled PA in 1994, the Civil Administration was responsible for governing Judea and Samaria as the governing arm of the military government that Israel set up in the area after the Six Day War.

In 1996, Israel transferred all Palestinian population centers in Judea and Samaria to the PA. Since then, the Civil Administration has been responsible only for Area C where all Israeli communities are located and where between 100,000 and 200,000 Palestinians also live.

The question of what the ultimate disposition of Area C will be is the top issue on the national agenda today. The majority of government ministers and the majority of the public support applying Israeli law to all or parts of the area.

Yet while the government debates the issue and formulates policies to advance whatever policies it adopts on this issue, the Civil Administration has for the past several years been acting independently to undermine and constrain the government’s ability to make strategic decisions relating to Area C.

Among other things, the Civil Administration has been independently initiating Palestinian settlement projects in Area C that undermine Israel’s ability to govern the areas. By the same token, the Civil Administration has used its powers to scupper, delay and prevent Israeli construction projects in the area.

The story of the Civil Administration’s rogue policymaking was catapulted to the headlines last week when Channel 2 reported that it was advancing a plan to massively expand the Palestinian city of Kalkilya into Area C. Among other things, the plan endangers Israeli communities whose territory abuts the expanded boundaries of Kalkilya advanced by the plan.

Channel 2 reported that the Netanyahu government’s security cabinet had given the Civil Administration a green light to begin construction.

The story caused a political outcry not only from Likud voters but from the security cabinet members themselves. Led by Minister Ze’ev Elkin, the Likud ministers insisted that they had been misled by the Civil Administration which deliberately hid the nature of the plan from them when it brought it to the cabinet for approval.

The ministers’ protests ring true because the Civil Administration has a history of acting in this manner.

In 2008 for instance, the Civil Administration initiated a building scheme in the Jordan Valley that would have taken land from Moshav Tomer to build Palestinian settlements.

The head of the local council complained to the government only to discover that the ministers had no idea what he was talking about. The Civil Administration had undertaken the plan, which undermined Israel’s control over a strategically vital area, without government knowledge or approval.

In contrast, and again against the wishes of the government, the Civil Administration has repeatedly acted to block Israeli construction in Area C. For instance, the IDF insists that no land deal between Israel and Palestinians is final until the IDF approves it. The policy harms Israeli construction in two ways.

First, it gives the Civil Administration the power – which it uses – to delay Israeli construction indefinitely.

Second, by forcing parties to land deals to come forward publicly, the Civil Administration intimidates Palestinian land sellers. They know that if their land deals with Israelis become public they will face execution by the PA.

Returning to Abbas for a moment, the PLO chief may have overplayed his hand by insulting Trump and his senior envoys. All the politicized retired and currently serving Israeli generals together cannot convince Trump to send US tax dollars to a terrorism supporting leader who trashes him and his senior officials. Consequently, there is every reason to believe that the Taylor Force Act will soon be signed into law and the US will end its financing of Palestinian terrorism.

But even if Washington cuts off funding to the PA, Israel is still left to deal with its radicalized generals who exploit their rank to undermine the government.

The best way to end this situation is for the government to shut down the Civil Administration and get the IDF out of the governing business in Judea and Samaria. So long as the government continues to empower unaccountable generals to administer civilian areas instead of its accountable, civilian bureaucracy, we will continue to be confronted with the surreal spectacle of Israeli generals lobbying for Palestinian terrorists.

If the government applies Israeli law to Area C, it can still negotiate with the PLO, just as it has negotiated about the Golan Heights and Jerusalem. But in the meantime, it will remove one of the most corrupting and corrosive forces preying on our generals and our democracy for the benefit of the Israeli and Palestinian residents of Area C alike and indeed for Israel as a whole.