When asked recently about the Palestinian Authority’s policy of paying terrorists, a senior Biden administration official replied, “We’re working on it.” Well, it seems to me that they’ve been working on it for years and gotten nowhere. Maybe they need a few fresh ideas.
The exchange took place at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on May 31. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) asked Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf if the PA is continuing to pay imprisoned terrorists and the families of dead terrorists. She replied, “We are working to bring pay-for-slay to an end. Period.” Cruz asked if the Biden administration’s efforts had succeeded. Leaf replied, “Not yet.”
That might be a reasonable response if the administration had been “working on it” for a few weeks, or even a few months. But this has been going on for over five years. It was back in March 2018 that Congress passed the Taylor Force Act, which prohibits US aid to the PA so long as pay-for-slay is continuing.
So, for the past five years – the final two and a half years of the Trump administration, and the first two and a half years of the Biden administration – the US has been “working on it.”
Until now, the Biden strategy has been what one might call the “thank-you-sir-may-I-have-another” approach. In a well-known scene from the movie Animal House, a frat house pledge is repeatedly paddled, and each time he is struck, he is required to say, “Thank you sir, may I have another?”
No matter how many times the PA-controlled news media slander the United States, no matter how many times PA officials accuse the US of orchestrating the 9/11 attacks or poisoning Arab children, the Biden administration continues to embrace and praise the PA – and pay its bills.
That’s how the administration gets around the Taylor Force Act’s ban on US aid to the PA – the American money goes through non-governmental channels to pay various expenses that the PA would otherwise have to pay. By the end of 2022, Biden had sent the Palestinian Arabs close to $1 billion in this manner.
CLEARLY, THIS approach hasn’t persuaded the PA to end pay-for-slay, as Assistant Secretary Leaf acknowledged. So maybe the administration needs some new ideas. Here are ten:
The ten methods
Stop paying the PA’s expenses. Let them pay their own bills.
Suspend US assistance to the Palestinian security forces – and publish a list of the names of the many Palestinian security forces members who have taken part in terrorist attacks.
Publish a list of the names of the imprisoned terrorists and dead terrorists’ families who are receiving PA funds, including the exact amounts they are receiving each month.
Halt all meetings between US representatives and PA officials, including the office of the Special Representative for Palestinian Affairs.
Issue a public warning to American tourists that visiting PA-controlled territory is dangerous, since the PA government finances terrorists.
Offer financial rewards for the capture of fugitive Palestinian Arab terrorists who were involved in the murders of American citizens. Currently the Justice Department’s Rewards for Justice Program offers such rewards in only three of those cases, even though there are many dozens – perhaps hundreds – of such terrorists at large. Order the Justice Department’s Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism to publish quarterly reports on the whereabouts of Palestinian killers of Americans and what the US is doing to apprehend them.
Organize a major conference in Washington, featuring Israelis and Americans who were wounded by Palestinian Arab terrorists, or whose loved ones were murdered in terrorist attacks.
Sponsor public memorial events honoring American victims of Palestinian Arab terrorism.
Instruct the Justice Department to actively support legal efforts by terror victims’ families to seek compensation from the PA.
Considering the bowing-and-scraping tenor of US policy toward the Palestinian Authority in recent years, undertaking even one of these steps would provide quite a shock to the system. Try a few of them, and the PA might even be convinced to end pay-for-slay.
The writer is an attorney, and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is author of A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror.