PA pensions for terrorists must be stopped

It is time for Israel to follow the US lead and actively halt the PA ’s accepted and outrageous promulgation of terrorism.

money (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
On March 8, 2016, Taylor Force, a 28-year-old West Point graduate and veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, was visiting Israel with members of his graduate class from Vanderbilt University when a Palestinian terrorist attacked civilians on the promenade in Jaffa with a knife. Force was killed and 10 others, including a pregnant woman, were wounded.
US vice president Joe Biden, who happened to be in Israel on a state visit at the time, said: “The kind of violence we saw yesterday, the failure to condemn it, the rhetoric that incites that violence, the retribution that it generates, has to stop.”
But the rhetoric and the payments for terrorism from the PA have not stopped at all. Abbas’ ruling Fatah party the very next day praised the attacker, Bashar Masalha, as a “hero and martyr,” and added that these attacks will continue as “long as Israel does not believe in a two-state solution and ending its occupation.”
Masalha, who was shot and killed by police after he stabbed his last victim, was given a hero’s funeral with thousands in attendance.
The PA even criticized Israel for not releasing Masalha’s body in a timelier fashion.
But the truly obscene part of this story is not really Masalha’s killing spree, but the PA ’s legislation to incentivize more terrorists to commit acts of violence against civilians in Israel, a motivation that is all spelled out in its code of law – open for all the world to see.
According to Law No. 14, Articles 1 and 2, enacted by the PA in 2004, Masalha’s family will receive a pension for life, amounting to three times the average yearly salary in the West Bank.
The Palestinian government makes absolutely no attempt to hide its rewards for terrorism. In the Amended Palestinian Prisoners Law 19 of 2013, the payments are enhanced for a terrorist who commits a violent act and is jailed. Under law, the longer the sentence (aka the greater the violence), the higher the salary a terrorist receives.
Article 4 offers free tuition to the children of those jailed. In Article 6, there is even a clothing allowance and monthly stipend linked to the cost-of-living index. Health insurance is included in Article 4, section 12. Article 5 provides the ultimate bonus: a lifetime pension for a prison term of five years (or only two years in the case of a female terrorist).
As Congress has become aware that the PA is in fact sponsoring terrorism, senators will introduce the Taylor Force Act, which, if passed, will cut off funds to the PA until it revokes its laws supporting terrorism.
The bill will be introduced next month in Congress.
Why the Israeli government fails to highlight that the PA has legislation incentivizing terrorism, and allocates $315 million, nearly 8% of its budget, to pay terrorists in prison and the families of martyrs, is bewildering.
Particularly in the face of one-sided condemnation of Israel at the UN Security Council.
While the Israeli government has begun to criticize the PA for paying terrorists, it has never done anything to stop its policies or demand the closure of the PA Prisons Ministry and Institution for the Care of Martyrs Families, which are ostensibly an institutional barrier to peace: there are over 36,000 people receiving monthly payments from the PA , distributed from these state institutions, rewards for attacking Israel.
The PA has named 25 schools throughout the West Bank after terrorist murderers and three honoring Dalal Mughrabi, a member of the Fatah faction of the PLO (the precursor to the PA ), who was part of the group that ambushed a bus near Tel Aviv in 1978.
In that “operation,” 38 Israeli citizens were killed, including 13 children. The late Ms.
Mughrabi also has a public square, a soccer tournament, a summer camp and a computer center named after her.
Perhaps it is time for Israel to admit that no two-state solution and no peace will ever be achieved if the Palestinian leadership continues to incentivize terrorism against Israel and teach its children to hate and kill Jews. With cash dangling before the eyes of so-called lone wolves, emotions are stirred by racist education and delegitimization; this creates a danger not only to Jews today, but to the possibility of ever reaching a of peaceful coexistence, within any borders.
There has been a continued argument that being too forceful with the PA could weaken it, with the danger of ushering in an even more lethal entity, like Hamas or Hezbollah. This is the wrong paradigm and the US, under President Donald Trump, is now setting into motion the simple idea that terrorism of any sort and against any people is completely unacceptable. While most countries have said these words, Israel has continued to make back-door deals with terrorist entities (the PLO comes to mind) that amount to “protection payments,” similar to those used by organized crime for decades here in the US.
For more than 50 years – half a century – much of the world has accepted the Palestinian’s argument of moral equivalence – that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. We’ve heard this from the PLO airplane hijackings of the 1960s to the Munich Olympic massacre to the Ma’alot slaughter of Jewish children to the stabbing death of Taylor Force.
But things appear to finally be changing.
In December, Great Britain temporarily suspended funding to the PA because it claims, correctly, that the money winds up in the hands of terrorists. Shortly after his inauguration, President Trump held up a last-minute cash giveaway of $221m. that president Barack Obama authorized just hours before he left office.
It is time for Israel to follow the US lead and actively halt the PA ’s accepted and outrageous promulgation of terrorism. During the prime minister’s visit to Washington this week, he should call the PA for what it is, a terrorism-sponsoring entity. Too many innocent victims like Taylor Force have been added to the list of names that grows longer with each passing year – a list that must finally come to an end.
Sander Gerber is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center of Public Affairs and the former Vice Chairman of the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars. The views expressed here are his own.