Punishing the Palestinians: Time to 'force' the issue
...When the killers of our loved ones are pampered in our prisons... this creates an open wound that can never heal
By STEWART WEISS
An important law was passed in the Knesset this past week. After months of debate and numerous revisions, the government finally decided to strike out against the obscene “Pay for Slay” policy of the PA, whereby Palestinian terrorists and their families are paid huge sums as a reward for killing Jews.For years now – as meticulously documented by Itamar Marcus and the Palestinian Media Watch – the Palestinian Authority has paid out hundreds of millions of dollars in monthly stipends to perpetrators of atrocities against Jewish Israelis, or their survivors. The new law – overwhelmingly passed, with the notable exception of the Arab-Meretz bloc – mandates that a commensurate sum be withheld from Palestinian tax revenues collected by Israel and placed in a special escrow account.The law, proposed by Yesh Atid MK Elazar Stern, is not perfect. Though supported by both the ruling coalition and the opposition, the bill has been scaled down from its original form, which called for the confiscated moneys to be put into a fund to directly aid terrorist victims, including farmers who have lost their fields due to the current “burning kite” attacks. Instead, the funds will be frozen, with the prospect that they might someday be returned to the PA, if it mends its evil ways. But, as heroic director of the Almagor Victims of Terror Association Meir Indor says, “it is an important first step which identifies and indemnifies the PA for its despicable behavior, hitting them where it hurts most – in their pocketbook.”In passing this law, Israel joins forces with the United States, which recently passed the Taylor Force Act, named in honor of the decorated American soldier who was stabbed to death in Tel Aviv in March 2016 by a Palestinian from Kalkilya. That bill also conditions US assistance to the PA – currently standing at $600 million annually, by far the most given to the PA by any country – on its efforts to end violence and terrorism. It, too, calls for an equal reduction of funds relative to the amount paid to terrorists and their families, including, notably, the very murderer who killed Taylor.While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has openly praised the Knesset bill, his Likud faction worked behind the scenes to try to dilute it, arguing unsuccessfully that the cabinet should have the final say if and when the moneys should be deducted.Netanyahu’s concern is understandable; he would prefer that the executive, rather than the Knesset, have final say over issues of foreign policy. And he fears that the collapse of the PA – which may result from its inability to pay prisoners and their relatives – might bring on an even more violent and extreme Palestinian leadership, perhaps even sparking a third intifada.But the Abbas regime has become so incorrigible, so despicable, that Israel has no choice but to take much more drastic action, both in the courts and on the ground.AdvertisementOur government should be aiding and abetting lawsuits by every Israeli who has suffered at the murderous hands of Palestinian terrorists – and, tragically, there are tens of thousands of these – giving them their day in court and making their victimizers pay.We should be exercising every option, including the military one, to immediately stop the burning of our fields and forests.And, as Indor urges, we should push hard for utilizing Israel’s death penalty in the most severe cases, such as the Sbarro bombing, the Park Hotel Passover massacre and the slaughter of the Fogel and Salomon families. Despite the protests of some liberal Israelis, the death penalty absolutely acts as a deterrent – this has been proven conclusively in the United States – and I am certain that the rabbis of the Talmud would be the first to condone such measures, under the circumstances.As a bereaved father, I join with all the many victims of terrorism who suffer a double trauma when the killers of our loved ones are pampered in our prisons and showered with huge sums of money in celebration of their crimes. This creates an open wound that can never heal. And as a plaintiff in the landmark suit against the Arab Bank – which resulted in an all-too-rare conviction and collection from an institution that facilitated payments to terrorists – I can testify that these judgments have a definite chilling effect on those who would serve as accomplices to murder.For years, we have talked about holding the Palestinians to account. We have absorbed their terrorism, their vitriolic language, their obsessive efforts to isolate us, their demonization of us, and their attempts to pervert the truth and cut us out of history. We have offered them deal after generous deal, all of which they have summarily rejected; even now, they are organizing massive protests against an American peace proposal they have not even heard!It’s time to both put up and shut up; it’s time to carry a big stick and force the issue.The writer is director of the Jewish Outreach Center of Ra’anana; firstname.lastname@example.org. His eldest son, Sgt. Ari Weiss, was killed in battle against Hamas terrorists in Nablus in September 2002.