The stunning acknowledgment by Congress through the passage of the Taylor Force Act that the Palestinian Authority has laws in place and budgets allocated to paying terrorists and their families has changed the narrative regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
This bloody truth has also finally been acknowledged by the mainstream media. Even the New York Times felt compelled to issue a correction that PA payments to terrorists are not “far-right conspiracy stories” because the PA admits as much.
However, Glenn Kessler in the Washington Post, and the recent Atlantic article by Neri Zilber, dispute whether the 2018 PA budget of $360 million for Prisoners and Martyrs in fact goes primarily to terrorists.
Zilber and Kessler postulate that prisoners include innocents that happen to be arrested, and attempt to inject definitional terms on what a terrorist is. Both claim that these payments are a social responsibility. At least Zilber concedes that the PA should differentiate “between payments …to prisoners with blood on their hands …and genuine political prisoners, orphans, and the like that Abbas speaks of.”
But both writers are wrong. The reality is almost too strange to believe.
The Palestinian Authority is a terror sponsoring entity under any definition. The laws rewarding imprisoned terrorists stipulate that they are not criminals, but fighters in a conflict. To claim that the PA sends money to car thieves or even minor offenders is simply untrue. The PA has a schedule for payments, and you need to achieve 5-year sentence as a male, and 2-year sentence as a female to get a lifetime annuity. Currently there are 6,500 prisoners being compensated by the PA.
The PA is making no secret of its sponsorship for terrorists at the expense of America’s taxpayers.
The secretary general of the PA government, Ali Abu Diyak, stated in December 2015 “that the government is obligated to pay the needs of Martyrs’ families, and the needs and salaries of prisoners in the Israeli occupation’s prisons, and released prisoners, according to the law.”
He specified, and I add the emphasis: “The government will not pay public funds to people who are not entitled to them (…) the prisoners’ salaries are paid to the fighter prisoners, who were arrested due to their national struggle, and not to others (…) it [the government] will not pay allowances and salaries to criminal prisoners and others that are not included in the framework of the law.”
The Institution for The Care of Martyrs is a slightly more complicated story. It is true that “martyrs” include those who become victims of collateral damage, just as they include suicide bombers or any other terrorist who died in the context of the ongoing Palestinian war against Zionism. The minimum payment for a martyr’s dependents is more than 2.5 times the maximum payment for families on welfare. Martyrs’ financial annuities are not merely to support the dependents, but to glorify and cherish the murderer’s memory, and to incentivize family members to commit further attacks against Israel.
We applaud the media for following Congress and finally recognizing this way in which the PA is rewarding and incentivizing terror. But a simple examination of the facts — for example the PA’s institutional commitment to sponsoring terror against Israel; the PA’s annual budget; the media reports; open statements by PA officials — shows that the PA sponsors terrorism to the tune of about $360 million per year — more than 7 percent of its entire budget and 45 percent of the foreign aid it expects to receive in 2018.
The media, and frankly the civilized world, has begun to understand the true nature of the PA. Recent anti-Semitic references of Mahmoud Abbas to the Jews and to Zionism help to better clarify and comprehend the Palestinian narrative. They highlight that to bring peace to the region, speculations and hypotheses need at least to be recalibrated, and certainly the facts should no longer be buried.
Sander Gerber is CEO of Hudson Bay Capital Management and a fellow at the JCPA and JINSA. Yossi Kuperwasser, a retired brigadier general and former director general of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, is Director of the Project on Regional Middle East Developments at the Jerusalem Center.