Palestinian Authority Has Chosen Terrorism over US Foreign Aid
By Sean Durns
March 2, 2019
someone says it’s not about money,” the satirist H.L. Mencken famously said,
“it's about money.” Yet, the recent decision by the Palestinian Authority to
refuse U.S. aid is about more than money. It’s about the refusal by the P.A.
to be held accountable for the acts of terrorism that the West Bank-ruling
a Dec. 26, 2018 letter
made public several weeks later, P.A. Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah told
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the Authority would reject U.S. financial
support. The letter spelled out why: “The Government of Palestine respectfully
informs the United States Government that, as of January 31st, 2019, it fully
disclaims and no longer wishes to accept any form of assistance referenced in
ATCA…the Government of Palestine unambiguously makes the choice not to accept
ATCA is the Anti-Terrorism Cooperation Act, which was signed into law by
President Trump in October 2018. It took effect on Feb. 1, 2019. It gives
American courts jurisdiction over lawsuits filed against foreign entities that
accept U.S. aid if they are accused of supporting terrorism. If Mahmoud Abbas'
P.A. were to take the money, then, it could be sued in American courts, along
with the Palestine Liberation Organization.
brought by U.S. victims of Palestinian terrorism could force the P.A. or PLO. to
pay compensation “possibly in the hundreds of millions” if either entity
accepts “even one penny of aid,” Times of Israel reporter Adam Rasgon
reported the P.A. was rejecting American aid on Jan. 18, 2019. However, what
Hamdallah’s letter reveals about the P.A. has gone largely unremarked upon by
press and pundits.
is official P.A. policy to pay terrorists for committing attacks, as the
Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, or CAMERA, has highlighted.
Palestinian laws passed in 2004 and amended in 2013 stipulate that convicted
monthly “salaries.” Additionally, cash grants and priority civil service job
placements are offered to those who carry out terror attacks.
although some have claimed that the P.A. denies supporting attacks, they do not
deny it when speaking in Arabic. The 2004 law specifically
states that the money is for the “fighting sector,” which it described
as “an integral part of the fabric of Arab Palestinian society.” And Sander
Gerber and Yossi Kuperwasser, both Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, or JCPA,
analysts, have pointed
out that Palestinian officials often refer to these terror trust fund
recipients as “soldiers and sons of our nation.”
some pundits’ portrayal of the terror slush fund as merely a “social
welfare” system for the families of imprisoned or deceased terrorists,
Palestinian law explicitly refers to the payments as “salaries,” even
withholding income tax on them. In 2018, JCPA notes,
the P.A. budgets allocated a total of $340 million overall — fully 7 percent
of the annual budget — for these blood money payments.
March 2018, the U.S. Congress passed the Taylor Force Act, which proposed to
halt American aid to the P.A. until it ceased sending money to terrorists and
their families via the so-called Palestinian Authority’s Martyrs Fund. P.A.
President Abbas responded in a July 2018 speech,
swearing: “Even if we have only a penny left, we will give it to the martyrs,
the prisoners and their families." He added: "We view the prisoners
and the martyrs as planets and stars in the skies of the Palestinian struggle,
and they have priority in everything.”
those “stars” make for a pretty dim future. While journalists and analysts
are right to highlight
how the loss of aid can hinder social welfare projects, they should be
contemplating what the Authority’s decision reveals.
P.A. refusal to quit paying terrorists for killing people is an outright
violation of the 1990s Oslo peace process that created the P.A. in the first
place. In exchange for committing the PLO to recognizing “the right of Israel
to exist in peace and security” and renouncing
“the use of terrorism and other acts of violence,” Palestinian leadership
was allowed to return from Tunisia and given a base for limited self-rule in the
West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Importantly, the P.A. also became a significant
beneficiary of international aid — much of it from the United States, which
sought to make the Authority a “peace partner” for Israel.
nearly a quarter century after the P.A.’s May 1994 creation, it’s apparent
that Palestinian leadership has chosen a different path. The P.A. stands to lose
much by choosing terror over U.S. aid. And both the Palestinian and Israeli
people stand to lose even more.