Recent moves of the US administration on the Palestinian arena (deducting $200 million from US aid and probably adopting a new approach on Palestinian refugees) are signs that as we approach the 25th anniversary of the Oslo Accords (signed on September 13 1993) there are finally international players that are ready to call a spade a spade. In this spirit, it is high time to admit that the Palestinian Authority, the main product of the agreements, is a “terror sponsoring entity” committed to the Palestinian struggle aimed at completely rectifying the injustice it sees in Zionism. It was like that from the day it was established and it promises to stick to this identity in the future. Yet, until recently we were willfully blind to it.
The PA, repeatedly declares that it is determined to keep paying salaries to terrorists arrested in Israeli prisons or released from them, as well as to the families of terrorists who died while performing their terror attacks. PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas stated that “even if we are left with one penny we are going to use it to pay the salaries to the (terrorist) prisoners”. This came in response to the American and Israeli awakening to the reality about the PA, as represented in the “Taylor Force Act” that denies American aid to the PA until it stops paying those salaries and revokes the law according to which they are paid. In a similar vein, Israel adopted an equivalent law that deducts from the taxes collected by Israel and transferred to the PA the sum it pays to the terrorists. (Both laws were recently enacted but were not yet implemented. According to a press report American officials explained that the cut in US aid was intended to avoid the need to activate the Taylor Force Act).
In the PA 2018 budget, salaries to incarcerated and released terrorists will amount to 550 million shekels ($153 million). The amount allocated for the families of those killed or wounded in the struggle against Zionism is set at 687 million shekels ($190 Million). Altogether, the expenditures for supporting terror in the 2018 Palestinian Authority budget is 1.278 billion shekels ($355 million). This sum constitutes 7 percent of the total budget, similar to the last several years, and amounts to 45.8 percent of foreign aid to the PA expected in 2018
The budget for real welfare support is 841 Million Shekels ($233 million). In 2017 it was 826 million shekels ($229.4 million) and was used for paying 118,000 families under the poverty line 750–1800 shekels ($208–$500), compared with 1,400 to 12,000 Shekels ($388-$3,333) a month that are paid to an imprisoned terrorist,
These details are especially problematic as the Palestinian terror continues. Among the recipients of the salaries are the families of the terrorists who murdered Hadas Malka, a policewoman stabbed to death at the Damascus Gate on June 16, 2017, the families of the Israeli Arabs from Umm-Al-Fahm who murdered two Israeli policemen on the Temple Mount on July 14, 2017, the terrorist who murdered 3 members of the Solomon family on July 19th 2017, the family of the terrorist who murdered Yotam Ovadia on July 27th 2018 and many more.
Some may advocate that even though we know that the PA is a Terror Sponsoring Entity we should remain willfully blind because eventually we shall have to make peace with the PLO and the PA as the representatives of the Palestinians, and that telling the truth may force the collapse of the PA and its replacement with a worse alternative. Furthermore, it may radicalize the Palestinians and harm the security cooperation with the PA security forces that is advantageous to Israel. We believe this is wrong and costs Israel a lot on the International arena.
The PLO in general and the PA in particular has long proven themselves not to be potential partners for peace through their hate indoctrination and incitement. The repeated harsh antisemitic and hateful declarations of Abbas since the beginning of this year are clear evidence to that. If anybody needs further proof, the Palestinians rejected the Obama and Kerry peace proposals, refuse to receive the Trump administration proposal for “the deal of the century” and reject it without even seeing it.At the same time, the Palestinian leadership consistently and vehemently oppose the idea that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people. One wonders, in light of these factors, how anyone could consider the Palestinian leadership to be a potential peace partner!
There is no reason to be concerned as to the fate of the PA. It will survive as long as Abbas survives and if it falls then it will happen because of internal power struggles, and not because of Israel. Moreover, Israel will be able to manage its relations with the PA as it does with Hamas in Gaza, which is not a terror sponsoring entity but a terror organization. In any event, the security cooperation will likely continue inasmuch as it benefits the PA in its struggle against Hamas.
Waking up from this willful blindness is necessary in order to stop contending with the PA in the international arena with one hand tied behind our back. As long as Israel remains in its denial of the truth about the PA it cannot expect other countries, especially the US and Europe, to adopt policies that are based on facts and not illusions. In earnest, how can Israel say with a straight face to its civilians that it is doing everything to protect them without calling the PA for what it really is – a terror sponsoring entity?
Only by accepting the truth can we send the message that we are not “suckers” and once the Palestinians begin to consider changing their attitude it will be possible to start paving the long and winding road to peace.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Times of Israel.