A JULY meeting of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A Nablus resident who confessed last week to having strangled, bashed in the head of and buried his Israeli Jewish girlfriend two months earlier told reporters on Wednesday that he had done so to “help free Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.”
Muhammad Kharouf made this statement to the press after the Jerusalem Magistrates’ Court lifted a gag order on his case: the killing of 29-year-old Michal Halimi, a married, pregnant Jewish woman from the settlement of Adam.
Halimi, whose body was discovered the week before last, had left her husband several months ago to move in with Kharouf, her Palestinian lover. It has not yet been established which of the men fathered the baby she was carrying.
Because this is the stuff novels are made of – a story that includes inter-ethnic intrigue, lust and murder – the tragic tale has garnered much attention. But the perpetrator’s declaration that his motive was nationalistic, even though this is clearly a lie, is just as worthy of note.
Kharouf knew that his affair with a Jewish woman – let alone one carrying a child of dubious origin – would be sufficient to blacken his family’s reputation in Palestinian society, even if he “rectified” the situation by slaughtering the source of the shame. The wrath of his parents and their peers would make imprisonment in Israel seem like a holiday by comparison. Killing a Jewish Israeli in the name of the Palestinian cause, however, would turn Kharouf into a hero in the Palestinian Authority, which would provide him and his family with a lifelong stipend of more than $3,000 per month, courtesy of the American taxpayer.
It is this travesty, the monetary incentive for Palestinians to commit acts of terrorism, that spurred US senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Dan Coats (R-Indiana) and Roy Blunt (R-Mississippi) last February to sponsor the Taylor Force Act. Named after the former US Army officer who was stabbed to death on a trip to Israel in March 2016 by a Palestinian on a rampage in Tel Aviv, the bill aimed to halt American aid to the PA until it stops paying salaries to imprisoned terrorists and the families of those “martyred” while murdering innocent people.
On Thursday, a day after Kharouf declared in Jerusalem that he had killed his girlfriend on behalf of the Palestinian people, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee convened in Washington to pass the Taylor Force Act, which received bipartisan support after being amended several times in recent weeks. The adjustments were made to enable the transfer of funds to the PA for hospitals and other humanitarian projects, and to give the Palestinian leadership the opportunity to receive more money if and when it proves it has stopped rewarding terrorists.
This is a good symbolic move, but the PA is about as likely to cease its practice of paying terrorists as Kharouf is to retract his lie about killing Halimi for Palestinian nationalist reasons.
Mere weeks ago, at the end of June, PA President Mahmoud Abbas announced that he would not stop paying stipends to terrorists and their families, a practice he referred to as a “social responsibility.”
After meeting in Jerusalem on June 21 with Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, with Jason Greenblatt, the president’s special Middle East envoy, and US Consul General in Jerusalem Donald Blome, Abbas still would not bend.
Earlier in June, when US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the PA had agreed to stop paying terrorists, Abbas went ballistic, and Issa Qaraqe, head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, called the demand to end the stipends “aggression against the Palestinian people.”
Tillerson subsequently modified his statement, claiming he had meant to say that the US and the PA were discussing the issue.
Following the tense meeting between Abbas and Trump’s team in Jerusalem, one Palestinian official complained to the Israeli daily Haaretz that Kushner and the other representatives from Washington “sounded like [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s advisers and not like fair arbiters.” This was because they had demanded that Abbas stop encouraging terrorism, which is the one thing he does not intend to do.
Ironically, Kushner was ridiculed earlier this week for telling a group of congressional interns that though an effort is being made to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, there “may be no solution” at the moment. This is not only the truth, but one that Kushner has heard, firsthand, from the Palestinian horse’s mouth.
Meanwhile, Abbas is busy figuring out how to launder foreign funds in such a way that the US Congress cannot trace its trail to terrorists. And Kharouf is praying that, despite his less-than-pure Palestinian motives, the PA will reward him nevertheless for murdering his pregnant girlfriend. She and her unborn baby were Jews, after all.
The writer is an editor at the Gatestone Institute.