Tuesday, March 10, 2015

10-Mar-15: The not-so-moderate Palestinian Authority and the terrorism it enables

The freshly moderate Abbas regime being
sworn in, June 2013. Abbas on the left, Ashrawi in white
[Image Source]
How moderate is Mahmoud Abbas, now well into into the eleventh year of his four year elected term as the PA's president? How moderate is his Palestinian Authority?

People - like us - who have personally experienced the agony of terrorism ripping at the fabric of their lives and familes tend to have a more black-and-white response to those questions than others do. We don't think Abbas or the PA are moderate at all. They are heart-and-soul for terrorism. And for pretending the opposite.

A good indication comes in news like this report from yesterday's Haaretz ["PA holding 50 Islamic militants, fearing terror attack will give election to Likud", March 10, 2015]
Palestinian Authority security services have arrested some 50 members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the West Bank over the last two days, acting out of apparent fear that a terror attack in the coming days would give the Israeli election to Likud... Israeli security sources said the wave of arrests, which took place in towns and villages throughout the West Bank, was ordered by PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Most of those arrested belong to Hamas, but some belong to Islamic Jihad... 
So to be clear about this: if there's a PA clamp-down on terrorists, it's temporary only, and being done for a super-pragmatic reason (i.e. "fear that a terror attack [now] would give the Israeli election to Likud...") and certainly not because they oppose terror attacks on Israelis. The photo below is a reminder of the high regard Abbas and his government have for murdering, unrepentant terrorists.

The arrests naturally cause their terror-addicted Hamas unity government 'partners' to foam and rage. The Jerusalem Post on Sunday quotes one Hamas figure saying the arrests "prove that the Palestinian Authority has no credibility", which makes some sense to us. Another, quoted in Times of Israel the same day, calls the PA's actions "an act of national betrayal" and "a knife in the back of the Palestinian people".

So what should the PA do? Clearly, if their goal is to keep their murdering, marauding, hate-filled terrorists on a national pedestal, then what they ought to be doing happens to be exactly what they are doing.

An Arabic-language news source, Firas, reporting from Ramallah [here] says:
The Ministry of Finance announced on Saturday evening its intention to pay families of martyrs and wounded 100% [of the monthly payments guaranteed under PA pro-terrorism laws] despite the financial hardship being experienced by the PA... Finance Minister Shukri Bishara agreed to the payments... which will be implemented during the next two days. [FPNP, March 7, 2015]
(The PA's foreign-funded program for financially rewarding terrorists is a subject to which we have given a lot of attention here. See for instance "28-Jul-11: Taxpayer-funded salaries to convicted Palestinian Arab terrorists. What a good idea." And "20-May-11: Rewarding the Palestinian Arab terrorists: is this being done in your name?")

A generous and sensitive soul, this Shukri Bishara. Though his government is, in the words of The Economist, "nearly broke", he's proudly and happily continuing to sign cheques for those jihad-reward payments to killers and assorted other terrorists, even advertising them via a press announcement.

But for the schleppers in the bloated ranks of the PA's under-employed civil service, a different class of treatment is on offer:
The Ministry of Financial Affairs (MFA) Wednesday announced that public servants will only receive 60% of their salaries for February... for the third month in a row" [Palestinian News and Info Agency/WAFA, March 4, 2015]
This leaves not much doubt about the PA's prioritiesTerrorists, murders of Jewish children, attackers of unarmed Israeli pensioners - these go to the top of the Palestinian pecking order. And despite the economic pain to run-of-the-mill Palestinian Arabs, they stay there.

Bishara is, in some ways, the prototypical face of extremist PA "moderation". This emerges in a recent report featuring him and some previous acts of money-related trickiness and disingenuousness. Prior to becoming the PA's finance minister, he was chief executive of Arab Bank, a Jordan-based commercial giant currently struggling through ground-breaking litigation in a New York federal court. In September 2014, the jury in that case found Arab Bank liable for knowingly supporting terrorism efforts connected to two dozen attacks in the Middle East, the first time a bank has ever been held liable in a civil suit under a broad anti-terrorism statute. 

Bishara, the PA's finance minister today, played a key role in the events examined by the court, as well as in the trial:
[He] admitted that he had cut a check for thousands of dollars to a senior Hamas leader while working for the bank... In one of many instances in the case where Arab Bank's witnesses have sparred with plaintiffs' lawyers, Bishara had originally said the bank wouldn’t have anything to gain by funding terrorists, before admitting that he had cut the check for a man on the US terror blacklist... While being questioned by his own lawyers as a supporting witness, Mr. Bishara presented in much the same manner that Arab Bank Chairman Sabih Al-Masri had: a charming, western-educated finance executive with strong ties to the West whose family was touched by terrorism... Mr. Bishara asserted that banks have a vested interest in peace, not violence... [But] Under cross examination by a counsel for plaintiffs, Mark Werbner, Mr. Bishara’s tone changed from gregarious to acrimonious... The most heated exchange came when Mr. Werbner asserted that Mr. Bishara released funds from a bank account belonging to senior Hamas leader Osama Hamdan... [Jerusalem Post, September 14, 2014]
Life and litigation are, of course, two different things. But it does the heart of a victim much good to see how the expensively-suited Bishara and the smooth-tongued Hanan Ashrawi, both well-regarded in certain Western circles and - in the case of Ashrawi - acclaimed as some sort of activist for peace, were both rejected by two attentive civil juries (Bishara in the Arab Bank litigation last September; Ashrawi in the PLO/PA damages case last month).

Those two juries were called upon to decide who was lying and who ought to be believed. In both cases, press releases and media spin had not much of a role to play, but the facts did. And they spoke loudly and clearly.

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