Posted tagged ‘Palestinian funding’

Trump is serious about slashing aid to Palestinians and Hizballah-dominated Lebanon

January 4, 2018

Trump is serious about slashing aid to Palestinians and Hizballah-dominated Lebanon, DEBKAfile, January 4, 2017

In view of the Trump administration Middle East policies, which meet Israel’s most vital security concerns, the attitude adopted towards Hamas by Israel’s defense minister Avigdor Lieberman and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gady Eisenkott is incomprehensible. At a time that Washington is clamping down hard on Iran’s anti-Israel friends, pawns and proxies in the Middle East, Israel’s own security leaders are talking quietly to Hamas. They believe they can coax the leaders of this Iranian-funded terrorist organization into stopping the rocket and mortar fire from Gaza which beset Israel almost daily. Still worse, they are using as their main intermediaries local UNRWA officers, who are notoriously antagonistic to Israel and represent a UN body targeted by the Trump administration for the cutoff of aid. They are assisted by a UN Middle East envoy, Nikolay Mladenov of Bulgarian.

These talks have achieved very little. Hamas has only consented to its own operatives refraining from firing the rockets, but shuts both eyes when fellow terrorist factions keep the rockets coming, so long as they are kept to a “moderate” trickle. Given these contacts with Hamas, it is hard for Israel to raise an outcry when a Palestinian Authority official gets together with its arch-foe, Hassan Nasrallah. Meanwhile, “moderate” rocket fire is a continuous bane for hundreds of thousands of Israelis who are trying to live normal lives.

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Palestinian leaders in Ramallah were wrong to assume that President Donald Trump does not seriously mean to cut off US aid. He meant exactly what he said when he tweeted on Wednesday, Jan. 3: …we pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect. They don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue… peace treaty with Israel. We have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table, but Israel, for that, would have had to pay more.” He then asked rhetorically: “But with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?”

DEBKAfile points out that, in the first place, Donald Trump is always serious when he discusses money, and, in the second, he is ready to wield the axe on US aid programs,  not just for Ramallah (and Pakistan), but across the Middle East. Nations and organizations even slightly tainted with Iranian influence are especially targeted.

Hizballah’s secretary general Hassan Nasrallah was fast on the uptake. In a speech on Wednesday night, he stressed that Iran and his own organization were financing the Palestinian struggle over Jerusalem. He disclosed a recent meeting he had in Beirut with Azzam Al-Ahmed of Fatah, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ special emissary for negotiations with Hamas.
In his speech, he made four points which represented Tehran’s reply to Trump:

  1. The Palestinians need not worry. They can rely on Iran and Hizballah to make up the funding shortfall resulting from the cutoff of US aid.
  2. The Fatah-Hamas reconciliation talks brokered by Egypt depend above all on Hizballah’s say-so for a Hamas decision.
  3. Even Abbas is forced to accept this, which is why he had no choice but to send a representative of his Fatah party for a secret meeting with the Hizballah leader. Since Hamas’ deputy chief, Salah Arouri, had already spent time with Nasrallah before traveling to Tehran, Abbas had decided he had better place his party and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah on an equal footing with Hams vis-a-vis Tehran.
  4. Just as Iran and Hizballah are bankrolling Hamas and Jihad Islami for fighting Israel from the Gaza Strip, they are also backing the Palestinian struggle for Jerusalem. This cuts Jordan out of the picture. Whether or not this is the truth, Nasrallah’s rhetoric made an impression on Palestinian and wider Arab opinion.

Until recently, some US administration officials were certain they had managed to extract Lebanese President Michel Aoun and the Lebanese army from the Iranian-Hizballah orbit. Trump was not sold on this and acted to neutralize this assumption. He inserted Andrew L. Peek into the State Department as deputy assistant secretary of state covering Iran and Iraq. Peek, who has no diplomatic record, comes from US military intelligence, a world which never shared the State Department’s patience with Iran and Hizballah. His appointment quickly touched off an administration reassessment of the US economic and military aid program for Lebanon. It was coupled with a recommendation of political action to head off a pact between President Aoun and Nasrallah, which could give this pro-Iranian duo a majority in parliament in Lebanon’s next election. It was also decided to discontinue US support for the Lebanese army in view of its domination by Hizballah.

President Trump is contemplating similar steps in Baghdad for curtailing Iranian domination of Iraq’s political leadership.

In view of the Trump administration Middle East policies, which meet Israel’s most vital security concerns, the attitude adopted towards Hamas by Israel’s defense minister Avigdor Lieberman and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gady Eisenkott is incomprehensible. At a time that Washington is clamping down hard on Iran’s anti-Israel friends, pawns and proxies in the Middle East, Israel’s own security leaders are talking quietly to Hamas. They believe they can coax the leaders of this Iranian-funded terrorist organization into stopping the rocket and mortar fire from Gaza which beset Israel almost daily. Still worse, they are using as their main intermediaries local UNRWA officers, who are notoriously antagonistic to Israel and represent a UN body targeted by the Trump administration for the cutoff of aid. They are assisted by a UN Middle East envoy, Nikolay Mladenov of Bulgarian.

These talks have achieved very little. Hamas has only consented to its own operatives refraining from firing the rockets, but shuts both eyes when fellow terrorist factions keep the rockets coming, so long as they are kept to a “moderate” trickle. Given these contacts with Hamas, it is hard for Israel to raise an outcry when a Palestinian Authority official gets together with its arch-foe, Hassan Nasrallah. Meanwhile, “moderate” rocket fire is a continuous bane for hundreds of thousands of Israelis who are trying to live normal lives.

Denmark announces funding cut to anti-Israel Palestinian NGOs

December 24, 2017

Denmark announces funding cut to anti-Israel Palestinian NGOs, Israel Hayom, Yair Altman, December 24, 2017

Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan | Photo: Oren Ben Hakoon

Erdan called the statement from the Danish Foreign Ministry “a significant achievement” for Israel.

“It cannot be that European countries continue to fund Palestinian organizations that act to promote a boycott and present a distorted picture of Israel, and even worse, have ties with terrorist elements,he said.

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The Danish Foreign Ministry on Friday announced it would cut funding to a number of Palestinian nongovernmental organizations and implement stricter conditions for them to receive Danish aid in the future.

Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen had been set to announce an additional $8.3 million in Danish funding for the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat, an organization that funds a string of anti-Israel groups. But the country launched a review of its funding criteria in May, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged Samuelsen to halt his country’s funding of radical Palestinian organizations.

Following a comprehensive examination of the issue in recent months, the Danish Foreign Ministry announced it would toughen conditions for Palestinian NGOs to receive Danish assistance.

In a letter to the Danish Foreign Ministry, Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan had also warned that according to the information available to his ministry, a hefty portion of funds allocated to the Ramallah-based secretariat were allocated to organizations with ties to terrorist organizations and organizations that promote a boycott of Israel.

In an official statement noting that a majority of Danish financial aid had been withheld, Samuelsen said he attaches great importance to Danish aid reaching its intended destination. He said a number of NGOs that currently receive Danish aid will not continue to do so in the future.

In recent years, the secretariat, a joint funding mechanism for Switzerland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway, has donated money to organizations with ties to the terrorist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, such as Al-Haq and Addameer. Shawan Jabarin, the director of Al-Haq, has served time in an Israeli prison.

Erdan called the statement from the Danish Foreign Ministry “a significant achievement” for Israel.

“It cannot be that European countries continue to fund Palestinian organizations that act to promote a boycott and present a distorted picture of Israel, and even worse, have ties with terrorist elements,” he said.

Trump administration to snap ties with Palestinians, no peace plan, no more monetary aid

December 23, 2017

Trump administration to snap ties with Palestinians, no peace plan, no more monetary aid, DEBKAfile, December 23, 2017

According DEBKAfile’s sources, Palestinian officials in Ramallah were devastated by news of the sudden cutoff of the main sources of the PA’s revenue. Even the Qatar ruler, whom Abbas visited last week as a last resort to save the PA from economic meltdown, refused to release any more funding.

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The White House has decided to quietly withdraw from all its ties with the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas.

DEBKAfile’s exclusive sources report that the Trump administration has resolved to scrap all ties with the Palestinian leadership in retaliation for its campaign against US President Donald Trump and his Jerusalem policy. Several warnings to Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) of what was in store if he did not desist from castigating the US president fell on death ears.

Last week, two Arab crown princes, Saudi Muhammed bin Salman and UAE Sheikh Muhammed bin Zayed, summoned Abbas to their capitals and urged him strongly to back away from his attacks on President Trump. He got the same advice from the ruler of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Al Thani, who conferred with Washington on the subject – all to no avail. The Trump administration has therefore set out an eight-point program of sanctions, which is first revealed here:

  • The Israeli-Palestinian peace plan under preparation in Washington will not be submitted to Ramallah – only to Israel and the relevant Arab governments.
  • US-Palestinian interaction is to be suspended – not just at the senior levels but in day-to-day interchanges. The administration has notified Palestinian and other Arab parties to stop addressing queries on political and economic matters to the US consulate in Jerusalem, because they will not receive answers.
  • The status of the PLO office in Washington will be reevaluated with a view to shutting it down.
  • Palestinian officials will no longer be invited to Washington by the US government, including the State Department and Department of Treasury.
  • Above all, they will not be welcome at the White House or the National Security Council where US Middle East policy is designed. Senior US officials congratulated the senior Palestinian negotiator Saab Erekat, who also holds the PA’s American portfolio, on his recovery from illness, at the same time warning him that he would no longer be received at the White House.
  • The Trump administration will not make any public announcement of the cutoff of financial aid to the Palestinians. Since the funds are mostly earmarked for specific economic projects, each allocation will simply be held back on the pretext of the need for a “reappraisal.”
  • The US will halt its contributions to the UN Work and Relief Organization, an estimated one billion dollars per annum.
  • The US administration moreover intervened with the governments of Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Qatar with a request that they freeze or slow their economic aid to the Palestinian Authority.

According DEBKAfile’s sources, Palestinian officials in Ramallah were devastated by news of the sudden cutoff of the main sources of the PA’s revenue. Even the Qatar ruler, whom Abbas visited last week as a last resort to save the PA from economic meltdown, refused to release any more funding.

The terrorist had reason to smile as he rammed people

November 21, 2017

The terrorist had reason to smile as he rammed people, Israel National News, David Bedein, November 21, 2017

(Are most humans becoming senile all at once, or is it just me? — DM)

Since the IDF Civil Administration, in charge of running Judea and Samaria,  will not destabilize the finances of the PA terror regime, defined by the government of Israel since 1993 as a “peace partner,”  the initiative to sue Arab terrorists of their assets must come from the victims themselves.

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This past Friday morning, A 17 year old Arab used his family car to ram into our friend and colleague, David Ramati, just outside of Efrat. The driver sped on to ram another Jew at the Gush Etzion junction , this time mauling the father of five children

Ramati’s first response to the media was to comment on the big, wide smile that the Arab teen was sporting as he tried to kill him.

Why the smile?

First things first, it has been widely published that the IDF no longer tries to kill potential homicide attackers.

Indeed, the IDF only wounded the assailant. Critically, but not fatally.

And there was another reason for the smile on the face of the Arab assailant.

Only a few hours after these two attacks, the IDF dispatched a team to make plans to demolish the home of the terrorist who is now recovering from his wounds in an Israeli hospital.

Why would the prospect of an IDF demolition of his home bring a smile to the face of the assailant?

As part of the program to provide an incentive for murder. the PA has offers construct a new home in its stead.In other words, demolition of terrorist homes is now a new incentive to terror.

The Israel Civil Administration confirms that after any terror attack, the PA facilitates new investment for new homes, compensation from the PA and new aid from the EU.

So what should the government and people of Israel do?

The solution : sue to freeze the assets of the terrorist’s family and of the terrorist himself.

Even more important, the PA must be sued as an accessory that provides the financial incentive for a 17 year old to go on a vehicular rampage to kill Jews.

Secondly, banks in Israel which facilitate PA payments to killers can be sued.

Israeli banks which enable the PA to forward gratuities for those who commit acts of murder and attempted murder should be held accountable in an Israeli court of law.

Since the IDF Civil Administration, in charge of running Judea and Samaria,  will not destabilize the finances of the PA terror regime, defined by the government of Israel since 1993 as a “peace partner,”  the initiative to sue Arab terrorists of their assets must come from the victims themselves.

Congress, Trump Admin Push Cutting Off U.S. Aid to Palestinians, Iranian-Tied Terrorists

November 15, 2017

Congress, Trump Admin Push Cutting Off U.S. Aid to Palestinians, Iranian-Tied Terrorists, Washington Free Beacon, November 15, 2017

(How, if at all, does the legislation mesh with Hamas – Palestinian Authority reconciliation? — DM

Palestinian members of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement / Getty Images

In addition to the Taylor Force Act, House lawmakers on the Foreign Affairs Committee approved a new bill that would require the U.S. government to expose the identities of foreign states, individuals, and other actors who have provided material support to Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups.

The proposed legislation—which would pave the way for the United States to suspend aid and seize the assets of any foreign entity found to be financially helping these terror groups—is said to be part of an effort to combat Iran’s efforts to forge closer ties with Hamas, Hezbollah, and other anti-Israel terrorist actors.

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Congressional leaders advanced several key pieces of legislation on Wednesday that would cut off U.S. taxpayer aid to the Palestinians and crackdown on Iran’s financial support for the terror group Hamas, legislative efforts that are being helped along by the Trump administration, according to multiple U.S. officials who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

 The House Foreign Affairs Committee, in a bipartisan vote, approved three pieces of legislation that will cut off U.S. aid to the Palestinian government and help prevent American businesses from doing business with Hamas and other Iranian-tied terror groups.

One of the bills, the Taylor Force Act, which would slash U.S. aid to the Palestinians until they stop using the money to pay salaries to imprisoned terrorists and their families, received support from the White House, which is said to have played a central role in ensuring the proposed legislation garnered bipartisan support.

The new bills are said to be part of a larger effort by congressional leaders to shutdown longstanding U.S. aid programs that have supported terrorist fighters and organizations across the Middle East. The advancement of the Taylor Force Act and these other bills is meant to send a message that the United States will no longer keep its coffers open to those who enable terrorism against Israel and U.S. allies in the region.

The Taylor Force Act, which has been working its way through Congress for some time, has become the centerpiece of the joint effort by Congress and the Trump administration to rein in Palestinian intransigence, U.S. officials told the Free Beacon.

“The Trump administration strongly supports the Taylor Force Act, and the White House has communicated that support to Congress and in public statements,” Victoria Coates, a senior White House National Security Council member who played a central role in pushing the legislation, told the Free Beacon.

Coates said that recent reports alleging the Trump administration sought to water down the bill in order to avoid upsetting the Palestinian government and negatively impacting diplomatic efforts to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process are false.

“Reports to the contrary, including that anyone at the White House tried to water this legislation down, are false,” Coates maintained. “Palestinian Authority payments to terrorists and their families that incentivize violence are unacceptable, and must stop.”

Cutting off U.S. aid that helps support Palestinian terrorists is just one part of an effort by the Trump administration to help reform the Palestinian government and legitimize its leaders.

“We also believe that economic development in the West Bank and Gaza Strip can play an important role in preparing the region for a lasting peace agreement,” Coates aid.  “To this end, we have invested and encouraged other partners to invest in critical infrastructure that will underpin economic growth, including through partnerships with local governments, the private sector, and a wide range of other partners.”

The Trump administration reprogrammed $13 million last month to help support a waste-water treatment facility in the Palestinian-controlled city of Jericho, according to Coates, who said this money will help Palestinian farmers support their crops.

“At the president’s direction we want to continue this important work,” Coates said. “But all of our partners must be engaged in building a foundation for peace, not for continued incitement and violence.”

In addition to the Taylor Force Act, House lawmakers on the Foreign Affairs Committee approved a new bill that would require the U.S. government to expose the identities of foreign states, individuals, and other actors who have provided material support to Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups.

The proposed legislation—which would pave the way for the United States to suspend aid and seize the assets of any foreign entity found to be financially helping these terror groups—is said to be part of an effort to combat Iran’s efforts to forge closer ties with Hamas, Hezbollah, and other anti-Israel terrorist actors.

A third bill that made its way out of the committee seeks to crackdown on Hamas’ use of human shields in battle. The legislation would, “hold Hamas and its sponsor, Iran, accountable for this monstrous practice,” according to Rep. Ed Royce (R, Calif.), the committee’s chairman.

Rep. Brian Mast (R., Fla.), a U.S. combat veteran and architect of the bill to expose Hamas’ financial backers, told the Free Beacon that Congress is pursuing every avenue to strangle Iran’s financial lifelines.

“A lot of the impetus is Iran,” Mast told the Free Beacon.

“The term often used is Iranian proxies. But that’s the wrong term to use. It really needs to be classified as Iranian colonization of the Middle East,” Mast said, explaining that Iran’s presence can be seen among every bad actor in the region. “This is colonization. They have a very long-term view. Hezbollah has been at this for 30 plus years. They have a long term goal and its colonization.”

Mast also expressed support for the Taylor Force Act, which he said does not go far enough in cutting off U.S. aid to the Palestinians.

If Mast had his way, “there wouldn’t be resources going towards Palestinians labeled aid or anything else.”

“To think we’re going to take a dollar out of somebody’s pocket here and send it over there to somebody’s family because they went out there and bombed a boss of shot somebody, or ran somebody over with a car, that goes way beyond the realm of common sense,” Mast said.

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R., Colo.), another backer of cutting U.S. aid that helps Palestinian terrorists, expressed optimism about the prospect of the full Congress passing the legislation.

“I am very pleased that the House Foreign Affairs Committee was able to pass the Taylor Force Act with bipartisan support,” Lamborn said. “This is an important first step in stopping U.S. tax dollars from funding Palestinian terrorism.”

“The next step is to bring it to the House floor and ultimately send it to the president’s desk,” Lamborn said. “Passing the Taylor Force Act is the moral and right thing to do in a world that is riddled with terrorism, it sends an important message to the world: America will not tolerate foreign entities that receive U.S. aid to finance terrorism.”

The U.S. Middle East Peace Plan?

November 13, 2017

The U.S. Middle East Peace Plan? Gatestone Institute, Bassam Tawil, November 13, 2017

Abbas is now caught between two choices, both disastrous: On the one hand, he needs the political backing of his Arab brothers. This is the most he can expect from the Arab countries, most of whom do not give the Palestinians a penny. It is worth noting that, by and large, the Arab countries discarded the Palestinians after the PLO and Yasser Arafat openly supported Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Kuwait was one of several Gulf countries that used to provide the Palestinians with billions of dollars a year. No more.

Since then, the Palestinians have been almost entirely dependent on American and European financial aid. It is safe to assume, then, that the US and EU have more leverage with the Palestinians than most Arab countries.

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No American or European on the face of this earth could force a Palestinian leader to sign a peace treaty with Israel that would be rejected by an overwhelming majority of his people.

Trump’s “ultimate solution” may result in some Arab countries signing peace treaties with Israel. These countries anyway have no real conflict with Israel. Why should there not be peace between Israel and Kuwait? Why should there not be peace between Israel and Oman? Do any of the Arab countries have a territorial dispute with Israel? The only “problem” the Arab countries have with Israel is the one concerning the Palestinians.

The question remains: how will the Saudis and the rest of the international community respond to ongoing Palestinian rejectionism and intransigence?

Who said that Palestinians have no respect for Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab countries? They do.

Palestinians have respect for the money of their Arab brethren. The respect they lack is for the heads of the Arab states, and the regimes and royal families there.

It is important to take this into consideration in light of the growing talk about Saudi Arabia’s effort to help the Trump Administration market a comprehensive peace plan for the Middle East, the details of which remain intriguingly mysterious.

Last week, the Saudis unexpectedly summoned Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to Riyadh for talks on Trump’s “ultimate solution” for the Israeli-Arab conflict, reportedly being promoted by Jared Kushner.

According to unconfirmed reports, the Saudis pressured Abbas to endorse the Trump Administration’s “peace plan.” Abbas was reportedly told that he had no choice but to accept the plan or resign. At this stage, it remains unclear how Abbas responded to the Saudi “ultimatum.”

Last week, the Saudis unexpectedly summoned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to Riyadh for talks on Trump’s “ultimate solution” for the Israeli-Arab conflict. Abbas was reportedly told that he had no choice but to accept the plan or resign. Pictured: Abbas on a previous visit to Saudi Arabia, on February 23, 2015, meeting with Saudi King Salman. (Photo by Thaer Ghanaim/PPO via Getty Images)

If true, the Saudi “ultimatum” to Abbas is tantamount to asking him to sign his death warrant. Abbas cannot afford to be seen by his people as being in collusion with an American “peace plan” that does not comply completely with their demands. Abbas has repeatedly made it clear that he will not accept anything less than a sovereign Palestinian state on all the pre-1967 lands, including east Jerusalem. He has also emphasized that the Palestinians will never give up the “right of return” for millions of “refugees” to their former homes inside Israel. Moreover, Abbas has clarified that the Palestinians will not accept the presence of any Israeli in their future Palestinian state.

Abbas has done his dirty work well. He knows that he cannot come back to his people with anything less than what he promised them. He knows that his people have been radicalized to the point that they will not agree to any concessions or compromise with Israel.

And who is responsible for this radicalization? Abbas and other Palestinian leaders, who continue unendingly to tell their people through the media, discourse and mosques that any concession to Israel constitutes treason, pure and simple.

So it would be naïve to think that Saudi Arabia or any other Arab country would be able to strong-arm any Palestinian leader to accept a “peace plan” that requires the Palestinians to make concessions to Israel. Abbas may have much respect for the ambitious and savvy young crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman. This respect, however, certainly stops at the border of the political suicide – and extreme personal risk — from Abbas’s point of view.

Abbas is now caught between two choices, both disastrous: On the one hand, he needs the political backing of his Arab brothers. This is the most he can expect from the Arab countries, most of whom do not give the Palestinians a penny. It is worth noting that, by and large, the Arab countries discarded the Palestinians after the PLO and Yasser Arafat openly supported Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Kuwait was one of several Gulf countries that used to provide the Palestinians with billions of dollars a year. No more.

Since then, the Palestinians have been almost entirely dependent on American and European financial aid. It is safe to assume, then, that the US and EU have more leverage with the Palestinians than most Arab countries.

Nevertheless, no American or European on the face of this Earth could force a Palestinian leader to sign a peace treaty with Israel that would be rejected by an overwhelming majority of his people.

Trump’s “ultimate solution” may result in some Arab countries signing peace treaties with Israel. These countries anyway have no real conflict with Israel. Why should there not be peace between Israel and Kuwait? Why should there not be peace between Israel and Oman? Do any of the Arab countries have a territorial dispute with Israel? The only “problem” the Arab countries have with Israel is the one concerning the Palestinians.

For now, it appears that the vast majority of Arab regimes no longer care about the Palestinians and their leaders. The Palestinians despise the Arab leaders as much as they despise each other. It is a mutual feeling. The Palestinians particularly despise any Arab leader who is aligned with the US. They do not consider the US an honest broker in the Israeli-Arab conflict. The Palestinians, in fact, view the US as being “biased” in favor of Israel, regardless of whether the man sitting in the Oval Office is a Democrat or Republican.

The Saudi crown prince is viewed by Palestinians as a US ally. His close relations with Jared Kushner are seen with suspicion not only by Palestinians, but by many other Arabs as well. Palestinian political analysts such as Faisal Abu Khadra believe that the Palestinian leadership should prepare itself to face the “mysterious” Trump “peace plan.” They are skeptical that the plan would meet the demands of the Palestinians.

The Palestinians appear to be united in rejecting the Trump Administration’s effort to “impose” a solution on them. They are convinced that the Americans, with the help of Saudi Arabia and some Arab countries, are working towards “liquidating” the Palestinian cause. Abbas and his rivals in Hamas now find themselves dreading the US administration’s “peace plan.”

Like lemmings drawn to the sea, the Palestinians seem to be marching towards yet another scenario where they “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” The question remains: how will the Saudis and the rest of the international community respond to ongoing Palestinian rejectionism and intransigence?

Bassam Tawil, a Muslim, is based in the Middle East.

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.