It’s as if the Bush Administration has learned little from the tragic mistakes of the last eleven years of the failed Oslo process. The U.S. is again preparing to provide massive amounts of funds to the Palestinian Authority (PA) without demanding full compliance to the 11 year old Oslo and 2 year old Roadmap. In his recent State of the Union address President Bush proclaimed that he intended to “ask the Congress for $350 million” for the PA. Neither the PA’s track record of ignoring, not honoring commitments nor the iron clad proof that much of the past economic assistance was diverted to the terrorist organizations as well as Arafat and his friends has given the White House much pause.
Yet without making this aid contingent on the PA’s dismantling and disarming the terrorist networks, ending the incitement in the media and schools, and arresting the Palestinian Arab planners and killers of 1,500 Israelis and 52 a.m.ericans; the US simply throwing money at the PA’s dangerous deficiencies will not put an end to the nightmare. Heaping financial aid on an individual like PA President Mahmoud Abbas, before securing fulfillment of the Palestinians’ compliance with their basic obligations under the Roadmap sends a strong message that the US is simply not that serious about compliance. And why does President Bush have this confidence in Abbas? Has he forgotten that Mahmoud Abbas was Arafat’s top deputy for 40 years, a mastermind of the Munich and Maalot massacres, co-founder of the terror group Fatah, and wrote a Ph.D. thesis and book denying the Holocaust? Would Bush be throwing U.S. money at Saddam’s deputy?
In the wake of the Oslo debacle, former President Clinton, his chief negotiator Dennis Ross and pro-Oslo Jewish leaders all now acknowledge that they were tragically mistaken in not demanding strict compliance from the PA of its obligations in each and every stage of the eleven year long process. They realize now that giving unconditional U.S. funds to the PA helped convince them that there was no reason to implement any of the promises they undertook. And yet, with no regard for the past, the U.S. is once again rushing to place the cart of benefits to the PA before the horse of accountability. Is this, we must ask, not simply Oslo redux?
It is remarkable that the apparent motivation for the President’s request to Congress to massively increase American aid to the Palestinians, (in an mount four times that provided by the Clinton Administration), is Bush’s belief that “peace is within reach.” In fact, all the evidence arising from the PA today plainly points to the conclusion that peace is not within reach. Indeed, last week’s 45 mortar attacks on Israeli communities and the continuous efforts of Hamas to smuggle suicide bombers through army checkpoints provides proof that the PA is unwilling to do what’s necessary to end terror. Let’s also not forget that Abbas recently called for “a big Jihad” against “the Zionist enemy” while praising terrorists as “heroes.”
The failure of the U.S. to learn from the tragedies of Oslo’s more than eleven years of broken Palestinian promises will only help condemn Israelis to remorseless bloodshed. The constant rewarding of the PA with financial contributions and aid packages at every diplomatic juncture has cultivated a culture of non-compliance and corruption which has rightly convinced the Palestinians that they can fund and continue anti-Israeli terrorism with no economic sanctions being imposed upon them. While the Bush administration has embarked upon an international campaign to track the sources of the funds being utilized by terrorist organizations worldwide, it fails to make the connection between aid to the PA and the suicide bombings and rocket attacks on Israeli cities it facilitates.
Before any further concessions are made to the PA it must be held accountable for the unrelenting terrorism being committed against Israel. The mere announcement of a cease-fire by the PA instead of the actual task of battling the bombers should not be cause enough for Washington to start writing aid checks again. As Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom recently noted: “While the PA is still preserving their infrastructure, the terror organizations can bring about a situation in which time they can carry out a series of terror attacks which will bring down this whole process and send it to hell.”
Financial aid to the PA must only be given after their commitments to Oslo and the Roadmap are fulfilled – and not before. The Palestinians must be shown that the so-called cease-fire, which has not even been implemented on their part, cannot become in the words of Hamas leader Khalid Mashal merely “a rest for the warriors.” Any economic assistance before these basic requirements are achieved will only reinforce the PA’s belief that there is no down-side to their support of the terrorist groups and the U.S. is unwilling to compel the PA to perform. As Winston Churchill, who was no stranger to the political battle against placating evil regimes, once said: “Those who appease the crocodile will simply be eaten last.”
Morton A. Klein is National President of ZOA