Rewarding Palestinian Terrorism
Unwavering U.S. determination to fund, train, and arm more than 50,000 Palestinian "soldiers" raises serious doubts about the repeated promises President George W. Bush has made to secure Israel's safety and bring peace to the Middle East.
If the Bush administration gets its way, $4.2 billion to $7 billion in American taxpayer dollars over the next five years may fund training and purchase arms for tens of thousands of seasoned Palestinian terrorists. Many are veteran murderers, released from Israeli prisons in "confidence building" measures repeatedly demanded by the U.S.
It's as if the U.S. proposed sending money, arms, and military instructors to help Sudanese strongman, Omar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir, assist Darfur refugees -- against whom he openly pursues genocide.
Rewarding Palestinian terrorism began in earnest in September 1993 with the Oslo Accords. Closely examining funds and propaganda mechanisms that facilitated PLO persuasion of the West should have indicated how al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations operate financially and otherwise. Alas, the U.S. and the West paid no attention.
Instead, in 1994 the U.S. helped establish the Palestinian Authority (PA), headed by one of the most wanted criminals in the world -- the Muslim Brotherhood member and Soviet-trained jihadist Yasser Arafat. His comrade in arms, vizier, and chief negotiator, Mahmoud Abbas, follows in Arafat's footsteps -- albeit without the trademark kafiyah and beard -- even more successfully.
Ignoring $10 billion (PDF) in Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) loot that Arafat already controlled, plus more than $2 billion in illegal annual income, the West showered millions more on Arafat. The West assumed that giving the PA legitimacy, funding it, and persuading Israel to cede territory would convince Palestinians to stop targeting Israel and the West.
As the world recognized the PA, however, Palestinians abused their new status. They expanded their illegal activities and terrorism. The more violent the Palestinians became, the more money and concessions they exacted from the West.
In 2001, a year into the second intifada, official donations to the PA jumped over 80% from $555 million to $1.002 billion (PDF)-- including at least $114 million from the U.S. Sure enough, that year hundreds of Israelis were murdered and thousands injured in at least 121 attacks.
The U.S. distributes funds to the Palestinians through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Until now, the U.S. funded only selected projects, which were expected to be vetted and certified by the USAID to ensure recipients used the funds only for their allocated purposes, and did not "commit, threaten or support terrorism."
Yet, in dozens of cases the USAID mission for the West Bank and Gaza failed to enforce federal laws requiring they bar organizations and individuals that threaten, support, or are affiliated with terrorism. The USAID also failed to certify that recipients have not provided material support for terrorism.
In at least 74 cases, according to a December 2007 audit, the mission "failed to comply" (PDF) with the anti-terrorism requirements of Executive Order 13224. It failed to vet subcontractors and require anti-terrorism certification for all contractors and subcontractors who received money.
Yet, the USAID mission even now plans to forfeit requirements on cumulative payments of under $25,000 annually. It should be noted that $25,000 can buy 50 Katyusha rockets.
The USAID mission argued that the prohibition against cash assistance to the PA is "technically an anti-corruption measure and not an anti-terrorism measure." Thus, they claim they violated no anti-terrorism clause.
Such clever manipulation of U.S. laws to prevent funding terrorist and corrupt regimes seems equivalent to the irrational Bush Administration rationale for giving $150 million in cash directly to the PA within a new $555 million aid package.
This would be the first time the U.S. gives the utterly corrupt PA cash to use as it likes, even to share with U.S.-designated terrorist organizations such as Islamic Jihad and Hamas.
Notwithstanding Fatah-Hamas leadership disagreements branding each other "murderers and thieves," on Jan. 30 Abbas agreed to give Hamas $3.1 billion of $7.7 billion pledged by international donors in Paris last December.
Money is fungible. PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, a former World Bank official, made this clear in a 2007 interview with London's Daily Telegraph. "No one can [assure] donors" that funds reach their designated destinations, Fayyad declared. He went on to state that controlling Palestinian finances is "virtually impossible."
But on February 11 at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., a straight-faced Fayyad claimed his "government's platform is amongst the most progressive in the region.]" and that it has ensured "transparency, accountability and adherence to the rule of the law."
Even if true, the incitement to murder Israelis in PA media and schools is reaching deafening decibels. The Bush administration clearly needs a good oronthologist.
Even though Fatah took joint responsibility with Hamas for a suicide bombing that killed an Israeli shopper in Dimona on February 4, the Bush Administration may be considering a PA request to intervene on its behalf in U.S. courts against the families of Palestinian terror victims awarded compensation for the loses.
"Frankly, the Palestinian authority, which is corrupt and cavorts with terror, is not the basis for a Palestinian state moving forward," said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on June 24, 2002.
The more the PA changed, the more it stayed the same. Incredibly, the only thing that changed was U.S. policy.
Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld is author of Funding Evil; How Terrorism is Financed and How to Stop It. She is director of the American Center for Democracy and member of the Committee on the Present Danger. Alyssa A. Lappen, Senior Fellow at the ACD, is a former editor for Forbes, Corporate Finance, Working Woman and Institutional Investor.