Bankrolling terrorism and moral equivalence - opinion

The families of the three terrorists killed on Tuesday by Israeli forces will be handsomely paid monthly stipends from now on.

 PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT Mahmoud Abbas attends a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, last month (photo credit: SPUTNIK/EVGENY BIYATOV/KREMLIN VIA REUTERS)
PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT Mahmoud Abbas attends a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, last month

The refusal of the Palestinian Authority (PA) to stop bankrolling terrorists is well known. Nevertheless, it’s worth reiterating in light of the efforts by the administration in Washington and government in Jerusalem to give it a good gloss-over. 

The attempts by Washington to deny or obfuscate the PA’s true agenda is aimed at returning to the non-existent two-state solution to the literal and figurative table. To fulfill this goal, it assigns moral equivalence to both sides of the Palestinian war against the Jewish state.

As the target of the aggression, Jerusalem doesn’t unequivocally embrace such a tactic; however, the current coalition has been more open to providing excuses for Palestinian hostility than its predecessor. It does this by espousing the view that appeasing Ramallah is in Israel’s best interest.

That neither of the above has ever led to anything other than an uptick in anti-Zionist violence does not seem to register on the diplomatic-Richter-scale. The constant need to restate the obvious is astonishing, but it’s not as jaw-dropping as the chronological proximity of Western goodwill gestures to bloodcurdling Palestinian statements and the actions they spur.

Only examine the events of the last couple of months. On December 22, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan visited Ramallah, where he met with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to discuss strengthening the ties that the Palestinian leadership severed with America during the administration of former president Donald Trump.

 Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas makes a speech during the Palestinian Central Council (PLO) meeting in Ramallah, in the West Bank, February 6, 2022. (credit: PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT OFFICE (PPO)/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS) Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas makes a speech during the Palestinian Central Council (PLO) meeting in Ramallah, in the West Bank, February 6, 2022. (credit: PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT OFFICE (PPO)/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

On December 28, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz hosted Abbas at his home in Rosh Ha’ayin to offer a slew of confidence-building measures. These included all kinds of economic and political benefits, on top of the multi-millions of shekels that he had promised to provide the PA as a loan during his last meeting with Abbas, at the end of August.

Emerging from the get-together, Gantz tweeted that he and Abbas had talked about “implement[ing] economic and civilian measures, and emphasized the importance of deepening security coordination and preventing terror and violence – for the well-being of both Israelis and Palestinians.”

On January 1, a mere three days later, Abbas held a celebration to mark the 57th anniversary of the launch of Fatah and their first attack on Israel, which was the attempt to blow up the country’s national water carrier in 1965 — two and a half years before the Six-Day War and resulting occupation.

Abbas took the opportunity to bash the Jewish state for its hideous policies of ethnic cleansing and organized terrorism. He even had the nerve to blame Israel for stifling the PA economy, alluding to Israeli legislation that mimicked the 2018 Taylor Force Act, passed by the US Congress and signed into law by Trump.

The Israeli law involves the deduction of hundreds of millions of shekels from the taxes on Palestinian imports and exports that Jerusalem collects on behalf of Ramallah. The move was intended to coerce the PA to halt its pay-for-slay program – a system so dear to Abbas’s heart that he swore that if he had only a single penny left, it would be paid to families of the martyrs and prisoners.

Meanwhile, Gantz was using an illegal loophole to compensate Abbas for his dwindling coffers. No wonder the Israeli defense minister refrained from reacting to the PA chief’s fiery, lie-laden speech.

Just as predictable but of greater concern was Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s meeting three weeks later with PA Civil Affairs Commissioner Hussein al-Sheikh, who heads the office that handles relations with Israel. One of Abbas’s closest advisers, he now also fills a seat on the executive committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

Boasting about the January 23 meeting, al-Sheikh announced on Twitter: “I met this evening with… Lapid and we discussed several political and bilateral issues. I highlighted the need for a political horizon between the two parties based on international law.”

It’s interesting that Lapid, who’s very active on social media, was suddenly silent. Perhaps he wasn’t comfortable pointing out that Israel is the only one of the two parties that upholds international law – despite enemy claims to the contrary.

Maybe he’s not so sure about that himself or fears jeopardizing his chances of becoming a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. He’s certainly got his eye on the premiership that he’s slated to assume next year in August.

Either way, a week after he and al-Sheikh convened to shoot the bilateral breeze, another Abbas henchman was clear about Ramallah’s attitude to terrorism.

In a January 30 segment on PA TV News that was exposed this week by Palestinian Media Watch, Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh was quoted as saying that “the leadership, led by His Honor… [Abbas] will continue the constant and ongoing battle over the salaries of the prisoners and martyrs, and what is more, we will break bread with them.”

The next day, Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Abbas about the importance of strengthening the US relationship with the PA and the Palestinian people, as well as the need to improve quality of life for Palestinians in tangible ways.

According to State Department spokesman Ned Price, the two “also discussed the challenges facing the PA and the need for reform… [with] Blinken reiterat[ing] that Israelis and Palestinians alike deserve to live safely and securely and enjoy equal measures of security, freedom and prosperity, and reaffirm[ing] the US administration’s commitment to a two-state solution.”

Abbas’s office gave a different readout of that phone call. In Ramallah’s version, there was no mention of reform, but Abbas told Blinken that Israel must stop abusing prisoners and withholding taxes.

While on the subject of the State Department’s equating of Israel and the PA, Price did a great job of it during his daily press briefing on February 1.

“We support the efforts of the Israeli government [and] the Palestinian Authority, alongside human-rights activists, to ensure accountability for human-rights violations and abuses,” he said, as part of an answer to a question about Amnesty International’s report accusing Israel of apartheid. “And we continue to emphasize to Israel and to the PA the need to refrain… from unilateral actions that exacerbate tensions. This includes the annexation of territory, settlement activity, demolitions, incitement of violence and the providing of compensations for individuals imprisoned for acts of terrorism.”

Nice of him to give a negative nod to the robust pay-for-slay program that Washington has resumed funding since President Joe Biden replaced Trump at the helm.

On Sunday, Biden spoke on the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and, according to a White House statement, “underscored his commitment to expanding stability and partnerships across the Middle East region, as exemplified by the Abraham Accords, together with Israelis and Palestinians enjoying equal measures of security, freedom and prosperity.”

If Bennett hadn’t been so bent on taking credit for the Trump-brokered normalization agreements that former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and other Arab states, he might have set Biden straight.

He could have reminded the president that the Palestinians oppose the Abraham Accords, and that Israel’s freedom and prosperity are a function of a flourishing democracy that the PA would like to eliminate. As well, he should have informed Biden that Abbas clearly isn’t interested in prosperity for his people, as he keeps spending donors’ dollars, euros and shekels on rewarding the murder of Jews.

The families of the three terrorists killed on Tuesday by Israeli forces will be handsomely paid monthly stipends from now on, especially since they were members of a cell affiliated with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which is tied to Abbas’s Fatah faction.

Though the terrorists were behind a recent spate of shooting attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians, Fatah spokesman Munir al-Jaghoub referred to the operation in which they were taken down as “a criminal assassination… [that’s] part of [Israel’s] ongoing crimes.”

According to Jerusalem Post correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh, the incident also apparently led to the Palestinian Central Council announcement on Wednesday that it had “affirmed the termination of the obligations of the PLO and the PA toward all agreements with the occupying state, [including] the suspension of recognition of the State of Israel until it recognizes the State of Palestine on the borders of June 4, 1967, with east Jerusalem as its capital… [and the] halting of all forms of security coordination.”

Additionally, the Council rejected all of Israel’s economic overtures and confidence-building measures as an alternative to a permanent and just peace. Translated from PA-euphemese, this means that Biden, Blinken and Bennett have to cough up more cash and concessions in exchange for nothing. How’s that for moral equivalence?