U.S. Envoy for Middle East negotiations Jason Greenblatt on a visit in Israel.
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
What country in the world would tolerate a reward system that compensates terrorists for their crimes, US envoy Jason Greenblatt asked on Friday, after defending Israel’s decision to deduct from the taxes it transfers every month to the Palestinian Authority the amount of money the PA pays to terrorists and their families each month.
Greenblatt, the US Special Representative for International Negotiations, defended Israel at a UN Security Council closed-door debate initiated by Kuwait and Indonesia on Israel’s decision.
Afterward, Greenblatt tweeted what appeared to be his message to the 15-member Security Council.
“If your citizens were being routinely attacked by terrorists, which of you would tolerate a reward system that compensated the attackers for their crimes?” he tweeted. “How can we possibly censure Israel for taking the same stance?”
Last month the security cabinet decided to deduct more than half a billion shekels it collects in tariffs it transfers to the PA, equal to the amount of money the PA paid in 2018 to terrorists imprisoned in Israeli jails, their families, and to security prisoners who have been released.
The Palestinian Authority’s “institutionalization of support for terrorism is unacceptable and must be called out, unequivocally by all of us,” Greenblatt posted on his Twitter account, apparently reflecting what he told the Security Council
. “The time has come for everyone to stop looking the other way.”
Greenblatt wrote that the issue “is about the fundamental moral and ethical point that terrorist violence should not be rewarded with compensation – plain and simple.”
Addressing PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ decision not to accept any of the tax money if Israel deduct anything from the taxes it will transfer, Greenblatt wrote, “The Palestinian Authority is refusing to accept over $150 million in revenue to protest the fact that $11 million is being withheld, only to make a political point. Does that sound like a governing authority that is concerned with the welfare of its people?”
Greenblatt said that because “we care about the Palestinian people,” the US seeks “to ensure the Palestinian Authority puts the interest of ordinary Palestinians first.”
According to UN diplomats in attendance at the meeting, Greenblatt said that the PA is manufacturing the current crisis, and that it was “inappropriate to focus on Israel as the source of this crisis.”
According to diplomats, Greenblatt said the Palestinian payments to the families of terrorists “creates incentives for further acts of terrorism.” The United States passed legislation last year to reduce aid to the PA unless it stopped the pay-outs.
The US was reportedly the only country that defended Israel’s position in the Security Council, with other members of the body – including the Europeans – saying that the transfers should continue without the deductions.
“It’s a unilateral decision in violation of existing bilateral agreement,” Kuwait’s UN Ambassador Mansour al-Otaibi told reporters after the Security Council discussion. “This is Palestinian money. They shouldn’t withhold it.”
Reuters contributed to this report.
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