U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority has become an increasingly controversial matter in the wake of the group’s decision to bypass peace negotiations and go to the United Nations for recognition of an independent state. But the outlay of funds to the Palestinians may become even more toxic after the release of a report by a media watch organization detailing the payment of salaries from the U.S.-funded PA to imprisoned terrorists.
The report from Palestinian Media Watch, an Israeli-based organization that monitors the Palestinian media and culture, said that more than 5,500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are getting salaries from the PA. Though Palestinians held by Israel on charges of terrorism have always received stipends from the PA, the practice was formalized this past April when a new law to that effect was promulgated. The law was reported in the Palestinian official press but went unnoticed by the international media. Given that the United States gives more than $600 million to the Palestinians each year, including $225 million that goes directly to the PA, the payment of these salaries is a violation of U.S. law.
As the authors of the report pointed out when they presented their findings to members of Congress on Tuesday, the 2010 legislation that authorized aid to the PA said the State Department must “take all appropriate steps to ensure that such assistance is not provided to or through any individual, private or government entity, or educational institution that the Secretary knows or has reason to believe advocates, plans, sponsors, engages in, or has engaged in, terrorist activity.”
The PA’s payment of salaries to convicted terrorists is a clear violation of this law.
In addition to speaking of the cash layouts to terrorists (which actually exceed the salaries paid to Palestinian civil servants), the report also discussed the incitement against Israel and Jews that is published and broadcast by the Palestinian official media. Another egregious example of Palestinian incitement was the fact that a summer camp sponsored by PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad divided children into three groups–each named for terrorists.
For those who have followed the history of U.S. aid to the Palestinians, this is familiar stuff. Ever since the original Oslo Accords, the State Department has made it a practice to either ignore or to deny all reports of PA support for terror or glorification of terrorists. Throughout this period, such outrages have been swept under the carpet by diplomats intent on pursuing an agenda of appeasement of the Palestinians in the vain hope this will cause them to make peace. But the United States has not been rewarded for its generosity.
We can only hope this latest evidence of Palestinian treachery will finally motivate Congress and the White House to hold the PA accountable and stop the flow of money from American taxpayers to terrorists.