Cut the Palestinian Authority off

For far too long, Palestinian leaders have acted with impunity, poisoning their people with a deep hatred for Israel and the Jewish people.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas with released terrorist prisoners in Ramallah (photo credit: REUTERS/Ammar Awad)
PA President Mahmoud Abbas with released terrorist prisoners in Ramallah
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ammar Awad)
Since the mid-1990’s, when limited Palestinian autonomy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip was established pursuant to various Israel-PLO agreements inked during the Oslo process, the United States has provided the Palestinian Authority (PA) with approximately $5 billion in bilateral aid. Under US President Barack Obama's leadership, that aid has averaged $500 million per annum.
Initially, Congress authorized this aid to secure key US national interests; namely, preventing terrorism against Israel, promoting self-governance in the West Bank that encourages the PA toward peaceful coexistence with Israel under a “two-state solution,” and meeting basic humanitarian needs.
Congressional legislation stipulates that no funds may be provided to support a future Palestinian state unless the Secretary of State can independently verify that the governing entity of the state has demonstrated a firm commitment to peaceful coexistence with the State of Israel. Congress’s definition of such steps include: taking appropriate measures to counter terrorism and terrorist financing as well as working to pursue fair, lasting, and comprehensive peace in the Middle East “that will enable Israel and an independent Palestinian state to exist within the context of full and normal relationships.”
However, an uptick in recent Palestinian terrorism, which has been linked to speeches made by PA leaders exhorting violence toward Israel, seems to indicate that these conditions are not currently being met.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas has shown steady support, both publicly and privately, for the use of terrorism and incitement of violence against Israel. He was recently filmed sitting and applauding as Religious Affairs Minister Mahmoud Al-Habbash called on Palestinians to engage in a “jihad in Jerusalem.” He also embraced Palestinian terrorists who were freed by Israel in recent months as “heroes”.
Abbas has explicitly refused to recognize Israel’s Jewish character, insisting that the Palestinians have already recognized the State of Israel and that there is no need to do more. In a recent speech on January 11, Abbas accomplished both these feats, rejecting Israel’s legitimacy as the nation-state of the Jewish people and encouraging violence against Israel. He did both of these things simultaneously, when he said that “there will be no peace” without a Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem and that he would not recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
Abbas has also failed to stop the endemic corruption that has plagued the PA since the group’s inception. According to Jonathan Schanzer, vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, corruption has hindered the PA’s ability to administer international assistance, encourage investment, or build effective institutions. In his new book, titled State of Failure: Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Unmaking of the Palestinian State,'Dr. Schanzer cites as just one example a leaked European report which revealed that the PA squandered nearly $2.7 billion in European aid between 2008 and 2012. Most recently, Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) produced a report for Britain’s Parliament, which revealed that the PA distributed over $100 million to convicted terrorists in 2013. In fact, the PA itself has noted that corruption complaints in the West Bank quadrupled during 2013.
Representative Ed Royce (R-California), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, recently proposed new House legislation that would make $400 million in annual US aid to the PA dependent upon the President certifying that the PA among other things “no longer engages in a pattern of incitement against the United States or Israel.”
In a statement, Chairman Royce said, “As Secretary of State John Kerry engages in negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, Congress will make it clear to the Palestinian Authority that continuing anti-Israel incitement to violence through PA-controlled media outlets must cease.”
“Not only must the PA cease incitement, it should engage in a clear, conclusive and deliberate effort to officially and publicly repudiate the providers of such hatred. The prospect of a real, lasting peace can only be built on the foundation of a culture of tolerance – one that renders such rhetoric politically unacceptable,” he said.
For far too long, Palestinian leaders have acted with impunity, poisoning their people with a deep hatred for Israel and the Jewish people. In doing so, they have systematically eroded the possibility of achieving a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace between both sides. House lawmakers taking the lead on this bill should be applauded.
Mr. Raskas is a graduate student at The George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management.