Friday, July 08, 2016

08-Jul-16: Violence, terror, cash and the PA Rewards for Terror Scheme: Congress takes a look

Shell Game: Back in February 2013, the man on the left was
the PA's then Minister of Prisoners Affairs. He's boasting 
of the huge number of prisoners receiving guaranteed 
monthly salaries from the PA. [Source Video: PMW]
Eli Lake, writing for Bloomberg last week ["The Palestinian Incentive Program for Killing Jews", July 1, 2016] says
Whoever said crime doesn't pay hasn't talked to the family of a Palestinian terrorist. For the Palestine Liberation Organization and the related Palestinian Authority, the killers of Jewish Israelis are considered "martyrs." And as such, their families are paid for the service these murderers have done for the Palestinian cause. [Bloomberg - Eli Lake]
A few days later, and in the wake of several especially shocking Arab-on-Israeli terrorist murders, the US Congress' House Foreign Affairs Committee conducted hearings into how that works. We're not claiming to be objective by-standers in the discussion: we know that all the members of the Hamas gang who bombed Jerusalem's Sbarro pizzeria in 2001 have been, and some still are, major takers of those payments.

The Committee was told on Wednesday that the Palestinian Arab government spends about a tenth of its annual budget
"paying terrorists who attack Israelis and supporting their families... [T]he Palestinian Authority is investing $137.8 million this year in salaries to terrorists jailed in Israel and payments to the families of imprisoned terrorists or suicide bombers, in violation of the Oslo peace accords with Israel."
Describing how the payments to Palestinian Arabs who have carried out murderous assaults on frequently-unarmed Israeli civilians are made - it's a process we call the PA Rewards for Terror Scheme - in recent months, Dr Yigal Carmon, president of the Middle East Media Research Institute [MEMRI] told committee members that
the PA transfers funds to terrorist prisoners in Israeli or their families using two Palestinian Liberation Organization funds. The financial support of these individuals is mandated by [Palestinian Arab] law. Prisoners must be provided a monthly salary ranging from $364 to over $3,000 during their detention, and salaries or jobs upon their release. Those who commit the most grievous attacks receive the most substantial monthly payments and are also entitled to jobs in the Palestinian Authority institution upon their release. ["Palestinian Authority Pays Terrorists and Their Families $140 Million a Year", Morgan Chalfant in Washington Free Beacon, July 7, 2016]
This is relevant to the stabbing, ramming and/or shooting attacks on Israelis by non-uniformed, seemingly random Palestinian Arabs that have come to be frequently termed in parts of the news media as the work of "lone-wolf" attackers. It's become a currently fashionable term. The chairman of the House committee turned his attention to that aspects and argued (as we have repeatedly done in this blog):
“These terrorists are not, in fact, lone rangers. They are not lone wolves,” said Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.), who chairs the committee, in opening remarks during the hearing. “Instead, these terrorists are the product of the programming done by the PA’s perverted culture that glorifies the willingness to die or to spend time in prison in pursuit of killing or maiming Israelis.” [Washington Free Beacon, July 7, 2016]
Roughly 250 such Arab-on-Israeli attacks have been carried out or attempted since the outbreak of the latest wave of extreme violence in October 2015. More than 30 Israeli lives have been lost, and dozens of Palestinian Arabs have been killed by Israeli police and security actions during and after them.

How does that "perverted culture" stay funded? It's a non-trivial question. Dr. Carmon, in the written testimony he filed in conjunction with his appearance before the committee, includes a revelation which is, not surprisingly, consistent with those we have published here in the past year. Let's call it the mechanics of the shell game, the one that the Abbas regime, and Mahmoud Abbas himself, use to hide the true nature of the PA payments:
[Mahmoud] Abbas issued a presidential order according to which the payments to prisoners would no longer be made by the PA's Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs. Instead, they would be disbursed by a PLO Commission for Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs. The aim of this deliberately misleading move was to alleviate pressure on the PA by donor countries that do not wish their money to be channeled to support terrorism. However, the offices remained the same and the official in charge remained the same under a new job title. The source of the money remains the PA, which receives them from donor countries, and the overseeing body remains none other than the PA. [Quoted in "Is U.S. Foreign Aid Funding Terrorists?", Josh Luckenbaugh for MRCTV, July 7, 2016]
What that reporter could have said but did not - and we will - is that this transparent blood-soaked fraud is fully understood and known to officials throughout the foreign ministries, and other parts of the governments, of all the Western nations who provide the funding. 

The United States and the European Union are the major sources of that cash, but Norway is prominent in the list as well and so are the UK, the Netherlands and Germany in their own right. We have written a stream of background pieces about it - for instance (and the list is much longer than these pieces) "27-Mar-16: In UK, facing up to UK Aid's scandalous ongoing financing of Palestinian Arab jihad"; "27-Mar-16: The PA's "Rewards for Terror" scheme and the lies that keep the pounds flowing in"; "28-Mar-16: Is it time yet for UK's foreign aid office to come clean on their part in funding Palestinian Arab terror?"; "31-Mar-16: More on UK funding of Abbas' Reward for Terror scheme"; "02-May-16: Norway's polite and cautious funding of Palestinian Arab terror"; "04-May-16: The PA's Rewards for Terror scheme: Abbas, fobbing off Norwegian criticism, incriminates self"; "13-May-16: Ongoing gullibility: UK foreign aid and the Palestinian "Rewards for Terror" scheme"; "25-May-16: Wall-to-wall agreement at last: The Pal Arab kleptocrats and the devastation they wreak"; and "14-Jun-16: In the UK, law-makers (some) worry over the bloodshed funded by their taxpayers". 

As we said, there are many others.

In his appearance before Congress, Carmon called the PA scheme a “deliberately misleading move” to assuage concerns from donor countries worried about their money being funneled to terrorists.
“The source of the money remains the PA, which receives them from donor countries, and the overseeing body remains none other than the PA,” Carmon told lawmakers. He said that countries who provide aid to Palestine, including the United States, are “complicit” in inciting terrorism because the Palestinian Authority uses foreign donations to subsidize terrorists and their families. By providing this support, the PA is encouraging terrorism in violation of its Oslo commitment. Furthermore, the PA has been using money granted by donor countries for this purpose, and by doing so, has made [the funders] complicit in encouraging terrorism as well,” Carmon said. [Washington Free Beacon, July 7, 2016]
We're not sure Dr Carmon's term "encouraging terrorism" is the best way to look at this. Numerous public opinion polls taken of their view on violence and terror and their utility consistently suggest that not much encouragement of the Palestinian Arabs is needed.

Eli Lake, in the article we mentioned above, describes efforts made by the US and Israel in particular to disincentivize Abbas' PA regime from continuing its Rewards for Terror Scheme. He writes:
One problem is that the payments to terrorists' families are exceedingly popular these days. Ziad Asali, the president and founder of the American Task Force on Palestine, told me that in recent years the media and politicians have elevated these payments to something "sacred in Palestinian politics." Asali said the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, and others are too weak to stop it. "This is where we find ourselves now. The vast majority understand there has to be an end to violence; it's not serving the Palestinians in any way," Asali said. "But I think nobody really has the stature and clout to confront these issues publicly."
Really? How great it would be if a statement like "The vast majority understand there has to be an end to violence; it's not serving the Palestinians in any way" were true.

But if Ziad Asali is referring to the vast majority of Palestinian Arabs (which he seems to be doing), the numbers show he has it back to front. And we mean Arab numbers compiled by Arab pollsters. We explained that in a recent blog post:
In the March 2016 poll, the last time this question was asked, 60% of Palestinians backed Arab-on-Israeli-civilian terror attacks... We believe, and the polling data bear it out consistently over years, that when columnists and analysts speak of the desire of Palestinian Arabs to live in peace, to get on with ordinary, quiet, constructive lives - as compelling as this interpretation is, the data don't support it. It's, to put it kindly, wishful thinking unsupported by any evidence and contradicted by what we can measure based on Arab pollsters. Anyone paying attention to the incitement pumped, generation after generation, into their communities and heads will not be surprised. What the people living on the other side of the fence are saying is clear, credible and measurable. Being optimistic about the prospects for the sort of painful compromise that leads to peaceful relations is counterfactual and foolishas much as we wish it were otherwise. That's a message we wish the public figures pushing their literally-hopeless "peace plans" would internalize. ["15-Jun-16: What do the Palestinian Arabs think?"]
So in the face of this, and the overwhelming support that lethal violence gets among the people we call our neighbors, what legal and financial steps make sense? And what does the Obama administration (as distinct from the Congress) say? And how about the Europeans?

It's a big subject. We will come back to it in the next few days.

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