This past year, the Obama administration has picked several fights with Israel that have helped tilt the diplomatic playing field in the direction of the Palestinians. Yet in return for this help, the Palestinian Authority has repeatedly thumbed its nose at an Obama administration by boycotting peace talks, making an alliance with the Hamas terrorists and then attempting an end run around U.S. diplomacy with a pointless effort to get the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state.
But like a battered spouse, the administration won’t admit the truth about its “peace partner.” Obama’s credulous approach to the PA was on display again earlier this week when administration officials testified before the House of Representatives Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia to defend the continuing flow of American tax dollars to the Palestinian Authority.
When lawmakers pointed out the new alliance between the PA’s ruling Fatah Party and Hamas put the United States in the position of funding a government aligned with terrorism, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jacob Walles replied in a “hear no evil, see no evil” statement that once again demonstrated the administration’s unwillingness to face up to the reality of Palestinian politics.
As for the much vaunted PA security forces trained by the United States, the best that Lieutenant General Mike Moeller, the U.S. security coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority, could do was to tell lawmakers PA leader Mahmoud Abbas “retains sole authority” over the security forces. That may be so for the moment, but left unsaid is whether those troops will help keep the peace in the event of a new outbreak of Palestinian violence in the wake of the inevitable failure of the PA’s UN initiative.
This is not the first time the United States has attempted to train a Palestinian force only to see it become part of the problem. In 2000, at the start of the second intifada, American generals and State Department officials were shocked when American-trained PA “police” turned their weapons on Israelis and joined the mobs attacking Jewish targets. If, as many expect, the PA resorts to violence to break the stalemate it has created by refusing to negotiate, the expectation that this current generation of Palestinian policeman and security officials will act to halt the bloodshed seems completely unrealistic.
It’s clear President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton have painted themselves into a corner about the PA, but that is no reason for Congress to go along with this mistake. At this week’s hearings, House members from both parties assailed the position taken by the administration. Rather than sitting back and waiting for the next disaster to unfold, Congress needs to act to halt the flow of aid to the PA now, before once again American tax dollars are used to fund Palestinian terror.