Homeland Security

How Long the Palestinian Subsidies for Terror?

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends the inauguration ceremony of the Palestinian embassy to the Holy See on Jan. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Judging by the over 12,000 shares (as of this writing) for an article posted by Britain’s Daily Mail on Sunday, many Britons are up in arms. They have good reason to be.

Hannah Bladon, an undergraduate at the University of Birmingham, was living in Jerusalem as an exchange student at the Hebrew University, where she was studying Bible, archaeology, and religion.

On April 14, Hannah—aged 20—was riding on the Jerusalem light rail, and was stabbed to death by a 57-year-old Palestinian man named Jamil Tamimi.

Now in custody, Tamimi, who is described as having mental-health issues, told police that he attacked Hannah in the hope that a soldier would kill him. Based on a psychiatric evaluation, however, an Israeli court has ruled that he’s fit to stand trial.

Tamimi, says the Daily Mail, stands to get a salary of more than £800 (or more than $1000) a month from the Palestinian Authority. What’s irking people is that Britain is currently paying the PA £25,000,000 annually in foreign aid.

As of last December, the aid money is only supposed to go to education and health. “But,” the Daily Mail notes, “critics point out that when British taxpayers’ cash goes to education and health, it frees up money in other budgets controlled by the PA.”

How likely is Tamimi to get rewarded for his cruel murder?

Itamar Marcus, head of the Israeli watchdog organization Palestinian Media Watch, told the Daily Mail that: “According to PA law, everyone who is imprisoned for ‘resisting the occupation’ receives a PA salary…. In PA practice, 100 per cent of the suicide bombers, stabbers, shooters and car rammers have been included in this category and do receive PA salaries.”

As Ofir Gendelman, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official spokesman, tweeted: “Not only didn’t PA president Abbas condemn Hannah Bladon’s murder, but he’ll reward the Palestinian attacker who did it with a monthly salary.”

That’s the same President Mahmoud Abbas who’s scheduled to be hosted at the White House by President Trump on May 3. Their meeting is being billed as possibly leading to an ultimate Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement.

Yet many in the U.S.—which forks over about $300 million to the PA annually—are also getting fed up with the notion of tax money for terror.

The Taylor Force Act, which is being pushed by Republican legislators led by Senator Lindsey Graham, would make that funding conditional on the PA ceasing to provide stipends for acts of murder.

Taylor Force was a 28-year-old American combat veteran who, like Hannah Bladon, became a victim of blind savagery in Israel. On March 8, 2016, during a visit to the country, he was killed in a stabbing spree in Tel Aviv by a 21-year-old Palestinian who also wounded 10 others before being shot dead by police.

As retired general Michael Barbero noted in a thoughtful article: “Shortly after the murder of Taylor Force, Fatah, the political party of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, posted a statement online praising the attacker as a hero and ‘martyr.’”

As Barbero further details:

In 2016, the PA spent $129 million on salaries for imprisoned and released terrorists, and $173 million on payments to families of deceased terrorists. These payments account for seven percent of the total PA budget and 30 percent of the foreign aid it receives.

The Taylor Force Act would prohibit all U.S. aid to the PA unless it takes steps to prevent terror, publicly condemns terror, and ends all payments for terror.

As Barbero notes, both the U.S. and Israel have feared that cutting off aid to the PA could cause it to collapse.

Bad as the PA is, it’s a lesser evil. It engages in security cooperation with Israel to prevent a Hamas takeover of the West Bank, and in its absence Israel would have to reassume indefinite control of about two million deeply hostile Muslim Arabs—or the equivalent, for the U.S., of about 80 million unwilling subjects.

Yet, as Barbero argues, given the PA’s intolerable practices it’s a risk that should be taken. If confronted with a stark choice between changing its ways or falling apart, it’s more than likely that the PA will want to preserve itself.

Reportedly President Trump is planning to pose just such an ultimatum to Abbas on May 3. He should do so, and should not unrealistically aim for an enduring peace while the PA remains an engine of barbarism.