To waver or not to waiver on terrorism

Congress is trying to stop PA pay for slay, now it’s time for the Israeli government to get serious, too.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during his meeting with Britain's Prince William in Ramallah, June 27, 2018 (photo credit: ALAA BADARNEH/POOL VIA REUTERS)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during his meeting with Britain's Prince William in Ramallah, June 27, 2018
The world seems to give a pass to Palestinian terrorism. Is it sympathy for the downtrodden, or is Jewish blood cheap? The international community fetes the Palestinian Authority and its leadership with no apparent awareness that the PA itself directly pays for terrorism against Israel.
When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu locked arms with European leaders such as  François Hollande and Angela Merkel, and with PA President Mahmoud Abbas at the Charlie Hebdo march in 2015, did the world leaders know that two years earlier Abbas had signed an executive order granting additional salaries and benefits to Palestinians in jail for attacking Israelis – amounts scaled based on the severity of the crime, and which included bonuses for terrorists who were Israeli Arabs or Jerusalem residents, as well as lifetime pensions to women for two-year prison terms?
PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki proudly declared that full admission to Interpol was a reflection of “Palestine’s ability to enforce the law.” Does Interpol know that the PA rewards indiscriminate civilian attacks against Israel through a legal and bureaucratic infrastructure with 550 full-time employees?
Do the 136 UN member states that have recognized the “State of Palestine” know that the PA in 2017 rewarded 36,000 families with monthly payments totaling $360 million for participation in violence against Israel, while allocating only $210m. in welfare for 120,000 families?
Did Prince William, who joined Abbas after visiting Yad Vashem, realize that Abbas’s website features numerous photos of released terrorists and martyrs’ families being greeted and celebrated at the presidential compound, and offers downloads of Abbas’s book that claims Zionists intentionally cooperated with Nazi Germany and that British colonialism created Zionism to serve its colonial plots?
IN OUR campaign to support passage of the Taylor Force Act, we met with dozens of senators, congressmen, generals, intelligence officials and even three Israeli cabinet ministers – and all professed ignorance and surprise after being shown the PA pay-to-slay laws and budgets. While most confessed they knew about payments to terrorists, none knew of the PA legislation, and all expressed shock at the magnitude of the payments.
There is one exception, a Treasury official who was detailed to the US consul-general in Jerusalem – the de facto US embassy to the PA – who said that when he learned of the PA’s institutional sponsorship of terrorism, both the State Department and the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories told him to look the other way.
Can there be any good reasons to conceal a government program to kill Jews? And what are the consequences of ignoring such a reality?
It took the tragic death of Capt. Taylor Force and the dedication of his courageous family to shock the US Congress into confronting this reality and swiftly passing the Taylor Force Act, which zeroes out US aid that benefits the PA. To his credit, President Donald Trump made no request for a presidential waiver, atypical for foreign policy legislation.
Israel has a much more complicated situation, because per the Paris Protocols of the Oslo Accords, it is obligated to facilitate the collection of Palestinian taxes and duties, 25% of which (7% of the total PA budget) goes to pay terrorists and their dependents. So Israel has unwittingly facilitated payments for its own blood.
Elazar Stern and Avi Dichter in the Knesset offered a bill that would freeze PA tax transfer monies equivalent to its budget for terrorist stipends. Government lawyers determined that because the PA violates Oslo by paying to kill Israelis, Israel can temporarily hold PA money until the PA stops paying terrorists. To have the monies released, the bill doesn’t require the PA to revoke its pay-for-slay legal infrastructure, but merely to take a one-year hiatus from paying terrorists.
Stuart Force will attend the Knesset vote on Monday, as a show of solidarity against Palestinian terrorism.
The government insisted upon a waiver to allow continued funding of the PA, but Dichter and Stern said the government must stop being suckers. In exchange, the government demanded removal of a fund for victims from the PA monies. It is our sincere hope that the government will permit victims with court rulings to collect from the frozen funds.
Still, the Stern bill represents a wake-up call to the danger of allowing the PA to continue to indoctrinate and radicalize its millions to hate Israel. Ignoring this barbarism because of fear of a PA collapse made all of us susceptible to ongoing blackmail.
But the legislation represents only a first step. Israel must not waver, and should not allow the US Congress to appear more concerned with saving Israeli lives than the government of Israel. For peace to have a chance, the PA pay-to-slay laws and bureaucracy must be revoked and dismantled. And the world should no longer be kept in the dark about the PA’s support for killing – it has caused too much damage already.
Sander Gerber is a fellow at the JCPA and JINSA, and the CEO of Hudson Bay Capital Management, LLC. He is the former vice chairman of the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars and a former member of the national board of AIPAC.
Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser is director of the Project on Regional Middle East Developments at the Jerusalem Center. He was formerly director-general of the Strategic Affairs Ministry and head of the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence.