Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during a ceremony marking the 54th anniversary of Fatah's founding, in Ramallah, December 31, 2018.
(photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)
If someone paid a terrorist in order to murder an American, the US would certainly prohibit that person’s entry into the country. If someone who funded terror against Americans traveled to the US, the US would certainly be expected to arrest him as soon as he set his foot on American soil.
If someone paid a terrorist after he murdered an American, the treatment should be no different. Americans would expect their government to prohibit the entry of that person who rewards killers of Americans, and should he arrive at America's borders they would expect that he be detained for interrogation.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who plans to come to New York City this week, does exactly that. He pays terrorists after they murder not only Israelis but also Americans.
Abdallah Barghouti built the bombs that murdered 67 people. One of his bombs was planted at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 2002 and also killed five Americans: Janis Ruth Coulter, David Gritz, Marla Bennett, Dina Carter and Benjamin Blutstein. Under PA law from 2004 and regulations instituted by Abbas himself in 2011, terrorist murderer Barghouti has been rewarded with a monthly salary which by today exceeds over $200,000 in payments.
Ibrahim Hamed planned bombings in which 53 people were murdered, and Americans were among them. Shoshana Judy Greenbaum, aged 31, who was murdered in the Sbarro Pizza shop suicide bombing in 2001, was 5 months pregnant when killed. Another American citizen who was murdered in that bombing was Malki Roth, aged 15. Under Abbas' “Pay for Slay” program Hamed has already received $143,000.
Boston teenager Ezra Schwartz and two others were murdered by terrorist Muhammad Al-Hroub in 2015. Abbas’ reward program has already paid him nearly $16,000 in salary payments.
Terrorist stabber Bashar Masalha murdered American veteran Taylor Force while he was visiting Tel Aviv in 2016. Since Masalha was killed during his terror attack and declared a “martyr” by the PA, his family receives the monthly payments and has also already received nearly $16,000 in reward for their son’s terror attack, under the reward program controlled by Abbas, and will receive monthly payments for life.
All the terrorist prisoners mentioned above who are receiving payments for murdering Americans and Israelis will continue to receive monthly payments as long as they are in jail and in all likelihood for the rest of their lives.
Abbas has repeatedly defended his program of rewarding terrorists with monthly payments, saying: "We view the Martyrs and prisoners as stars in the sky… they have priority in everything." [Official PA TV, July 24, 2018] Regarding the payments themselves he has stressed: “The Martyrs and their families are sacred, [and so are] the wounded and the prisoners. We must pay all of them. If one penny remains in our hands it is for them” [Official PA TV, Oct. 28, 2018]
In addition to the terrorists mentioned above another 5,500 Palestinian terrorist prisoners receive monthly salaries by courtesy of Abbas.
In July 2018, a United Nations group of developing nations appointed the “state of Palestine” to head the “Group of 77”, and it is meeting this week at the UN in New York. Abbas is planning to attend to lead the session.
How can the US grant a visa to the funder of murderers of Americans?
There are precedents when the United States prohibited the entry of foreigners who wanted to attend UN events, because they had been involved in murder or terror. In addition, Mahmoud Abbas is not the head of a state and therefore has no diplomatic immunity or rights. Moreover, based on the activities of the organizations Abbas heads - the Palestinian Authority, which rewards and glorifies terror, and Fatah, which recently announced they will never “drop the rifle” in their battle against Israel – it is much more accurate to define Abbas as the head of terror organizations than he the head of “a state.”
Making the case stronger to prohibit his entry is US law. The opening paragraph of America’s Taylor Force law passed in 2018 reads: “The Palestinian Authority’s practice of paying salaries to terrorists serving in Israeli prisons, as well as to the families of deceased terrorists, is an incentive to commit acts of terror.”
With this, the US has recognized Abbas’ direct connection to terror.
The PA is in the unique position internationally being an entity that is fundamentally involved in terror yet the international community has not yet held them responsible and has not yet undertaken prosecution. It is time for the US to take a stand, not by merely withholding money from the PA, but by actively pursuing those responsible for funding terror. In the names of all the Americans whose murderers Abbas is rewarding because he believes they are “stars in the sky,” the US must announce to the world that Abbas and all PA leaders involved in funding terror are not welcome in the United States. And should Abbas land on American soil this week the US should consider having him investigated under suspicion of heading the program that incentivized the murder of Americans.
Itamar Marcus is founder and director of Palestinian Media Watch. Nan Jacques Zilberdik is a senior analyst at Palestinian Media Watch.
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