The Palestinian Authority (PA) is the world’s biggest welfare case, with the United States and the European Union pouring billions, if not trillions, into the coffers of these supposedly oppressed people. Palestinian officials have used the money to enrich themselves and to finance jihad terror against Israel. Finally, Israel has begun to push back against this: in July 2018, the Knesset passed a bill directing that the amount of PA payments to jihad terrorists be deducted from the Israeli taxpayer money that was collected for the Palestinians. (How many people who condemn Israel for its supposed oppression of the Palestinians are even aware that Israeli taxpayer money goes to the Palestinian Authority?) These deductions are happening – but they’re still not nearly enough, and the Palestinian Authority is still giving an astounding amount of money to jihad murderers and their families.
As the new book The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process shows, the reaction among Palestinian officials to the Israeli bill was predictable. PA spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh called it a “declaration of war,” and PA President-for-Life Mahmoud Abbas was defiant: “We will not accept a cut or cancellation of salaries to the families of martyrs and prisoners, as some are trying to bring about. We view the prisoners and the martyrs as planets and stars in the skies of the Palestinian struggle, and they have priority in everything.” They were, he said, “paving the way for the independence of Palestine.”
The Trump administration was unmoved, and took decisive action of its own in support of the Israeli government’s stance. After years of American funding of the PA despite massive evidence of the fact that it is encouraging and rewarding jihad terror activity, Trump cut the amount of money the U.S. sent to the PA. And on February 1, 2019, the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA) came into effect. This act allowed families of victims of terror attacks in foreign countries to sue foreign governments. The Palestinian Authority thereupon asked the U.S. government to end its funding of the Palestinian security services, which amounted to sixty million dollars annually, as continuing to take it would expose the Palestinian government to lawsuits under the new law.
All that is very much to the good. A Palestinian Media Watch Special Report published Monday notes that “since February 2019, the Israeli government has been deducting the money the PA paid to terrorist prisoners in 2018, which equals 502 million shekels” ($145 million). But this isn’t nearly enough: the deductions haven’t stopped the PA from paying jihad terrorists and their families, and the PA is still receiving so much aid money that it can keep jihadis and their loved ones living in style.
Israeli authorities are aware of this problem. Back in February 2019, the Israeli Prime Minister’s office announced that “Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed security officials to step up checks on additional Palestinian Authority payments linked to terrorism, including those to terrorists and their families. The amount frozen will be updated as per the information received.”
Since then, however, nothing more has been done; Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) explains that this is due in part to the fact that “calculating the precise figure paid to dead terrorists’ families is very complex.” The PMW Special Report documents “the minimal amount of money the PA is paying to families of dead terrorists,” and it’s shocking: “the families of at least 14,300 dead terrorists are receiving at least 1,400 shekels/month. Adding the one-time grants, the total PA payments in 2018 were at least 241 million shekels” ($70 million). That makes the low-ball figure for how much the Palestinian Authority is paying for jihad terrorism 200 million dollars.
Palestinian leaders had been encouraging and rewarding terrorism for years, and world leaders have repeatedly condemned not the PA, but Israel, pressuring the Jewish state to make still more concessions to the Palestinians. There had never been any cost to the Palestinians for their jihad activity. Now there is. But it if this pressure isn’t drastically increased, the Palestinian jihad terror factory will continue to turn out product at a rapid clip, financed not just by Israel by American and European taxpayers whose money is in all too many cases being appropriated by weak, feckless leaders who remain willfully ignorant about the real situation in Israel.
It’s madness. And it must stop.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.