Commentary Magazine


Topic: Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006

Does Obama Care About Hamas Terror?

The Fatah-Hamas unity pact destroyed Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace talks and undermined the notion that the Palestinian Authority was a genuine partner for peace with Israel. But the standard argument heard from those who believe the United States must continue to support and subsidize the PA is that it is Fatah that is calling the shots in Ramallah and that a financially distressed Hamas is being absorbed by the supposedly more moderate Palestinian group. But that assumption, which had little basis to start with, was dealt a body blow this week when Hamas called on its operatives in the West Bank to redouble their efforts to target Israeli soldiers and civilians.

The supposed rationale for this statement, in which Hamas’s leading spokesman literally called for the spilling of Jewish blood, were complaints about the continued hunger strike being undertaken by terrorist prisoners in Israeli prisons. The ill feelings between Fatah and Hamas are also playing a role in increasing militancy since the Islamist group feels its army of no-show and no-work municipal employees are not being paid the salaries that Fatah promised them. But the bottom line here is that in contrast to the assurances that supporters of the peace process have made on their behalf, Hamas remains utterly opposed to peace and still dedicated to its charter that calls for Israel’s destruction and the slaughter of its population.

But with Hamas now openly demonstrating that far from being assimilated into the peace process, it is more dedicated than ever to perpetuating the conflict, the question arises as to why the U.S. is persisting in pretending otherwise.

Read More

The Fatah-Hamas unity pact destroyed Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace talks and undermined the notion that the Palestinian Authority was a genuine partner for peace with Israel. But the standard argument heard from those who believe the United States must continue to support and subsidize the PA is that it is Fatah that is calling the shots in Ramallah and that a financially distressed Hamas is being absorbed by the supposedly more moderate Palestinian group. But that assumption, which had little basis to start with, was dealt a body blow this week when Hamas called on its operatives in the West Bank to redouble their efforts to target Israeli soldiers and civilians.

The supposed rationale for this statement, in which Hamas’s leading spokesman literally called for the spilling of Jewish blood, were complaints about the continued hunger strike being undertaken by terrorist prisoners in Israeli prisons. The ill feelings between Fatah and Hamas are also playing a role in increasing militancy since the Islamist group feels its army of no-show and no-work municipal employees are not being paid the salaries that Fatah promised them. But the bottom line here is that in contrast to the assurances that supporters of the peace process have made on their behalf, Hamas remains utterly opposed to peace and still dedicated to its charter that calls for Israel’s destruction and the slaughter of its population.

But with Hamas now openly demonstrating that far from being assimilated into the peace process, it is more dedicated than ever to perpetuating the conflict, the question arises as to why the U.S. is persisting in pretending otherwise.

The State Department announcement last week that it would continue sending aid to the PA in the wake of the Hamas pact flatly contradicted the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006. That law stated specifically that taxpayer dollars could not continue to flow to the PA if Hamas was part of the Palestinian government until that Islamist terror group and the PA ceased terrorism and incitement. The only way to continue the aid is for the president to transmit to Congress a waiver saying the conditions of the law are being met. While the State Department claimed that the absence of any Hamas members in the new PA cabinet allows it to say that the group isn’t part of the government, the fact remains that the terror group is a full partner in this new government and no one in Ramallah or Gaza is pretending otherwise.

Were President Obama serious about promoting Palestinian democracy and peace, he would be using the signs of a spat between the two new partners to pressure PA leader Mahmoud Abbas to reject Hamas and to insist that any member of his government embrace peace. But instead of exploiting the rift that gives the U.S. another opportunity to rid the PA of open terrorists, the administration is remaining silent.

As I noted last week, the decision to keep funding a PA that included Hamas was a retreat from decades of U.S. anti-terrorism policy as well as a betrayal of the alliance with Israel. But a refusal to acknowledge what Hamas is openly saying about terror is more than a misguided policy; it gives the lie to the U.S. insistence that its goal is peace via a two-state solution. Even prior to the unity pact, the Fatah-dominated PA had shown no interest in recognizing the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders were drawn. But with this latest terror threat, it is clear that Hamas has not altered its platform or its practices. So long as Hamas is part of the PA the chances of peace with Israel are exactly zero. While they are not much higher without Hamas, it is at least theoretically possible that the PA might change its tune.

The Hamas threat makes it all the more imperative that Congress act quickly to freeze up Palestinian aid. The money that the U.S. and Europe gives the Palestinians is the only leverage the West has to promote peace. If this administration is not willing to use it, it must be understood that any sort of peace process is simply impossible. While defenders of the unity pact and the PA have asserted that making the Palestinians face consequences for their behavior is unhelpful, the opposite is true. If Obama isn’t prepared to pressure the Palestinians to reject Hamas and embrace peace, his own bona fides as a Middle East peacemaker are very much in question.

Read Less

Continued Palestinian Aid Breaks the Law

Yesterday’s decision by the Obama administration to continue funding for the Palestinian Authority despite its alliance with Hamas terrorists was a blow to the cause of peace as well as a slap in the face to the state of Israel. The administration thinks it can hide behind the pretense that such aid isn’t going to Hamas because it is shielded by a Cabinet of technocrats that have been appointed by PA leader Mahmoud Abbas won’t include a member of the terror group. But no one is fooled by this scam. Hamas is now an integral part of the PA apparatus. Since Hamas has not dropped its call for Israel’s destruction and the slaughter of its population, arguments that it has been co-opted by the supposedly more moderate Fatah can’t be taken seriously. The unity agreement is based on a common abhorrence for peace that is shared by the rank and file of both major Palestinian movements, a point that is proved by Fatah’s repeated rejection of Israeli peace offers and decision to strike a deal with Hamas rather than Israel.

This is a body blow to the cause of peace since without U.S. pressure or even a gesture in the direction of accountability, it’s clear the Palestinian leadership will never recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn.

But as frustrating as this betrayal may be for the broad bipartisan pro-Israel coalition in Washington, this is not just a matter of bad policy. By keeping U.S. taxpayer dollars flowing to the PA, the administration is breaking the law. As Senators Mark Kirk and Marco Rubio pointed out in a letter to Secretary of State Kerry yesterday, U.S. law clearly states that continuing aid to the PA if it has entered into a pact with Hamas is illegal under the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006.

Read More

Yesterday’s decision by the Obama administration to continue funding for the Palestinian Authority despite its alliance with Hamas terrorists was a blow to the cause of peace as well as a slap in the face to the state of Israel. The administration thinks it can hide behind the pretense that such aid isn’t going to Hamas because it is shielded by a Cabinet of technocrats that have been appointed by PA leader Mahmoud Abbas won’t include a member of the terror group. But no one is fooled by this scam. Hamas is now an integral part of the PA apparatus. Since Hamas has not dropped its call for Israel’s destruction and the slaughter of its population, arguments that it has been co-opted by the supposedly more moderate Fatah can’t be taken seriously. The unity agreement is based on a common abhorrence for peace that is shared by the rank and file of both major Palestinian movements, a point that is proved by Fatah’s repeated rejection of Israeli peace offers and decision to strike a deal with Hamas rather than Israel.

This is a body blow to the cause of peace since without U.S. pressure or even a gesture in the direction of accountability, it’s clear the Palestinian leadership will never recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn.

But as frustrating as this betrayal may be for the broad bipartisan pro-Israel coalition in Washington, this is not just a matter of bad policy. By keeping U.S. taxpayer dollars flowing to the PA, the administration is breaking the law. As Senators Mark Kirk and Marco Rubio pointed out in a letter to Secretary of State Kerry yesterday, U.S. law clearly states that continuing aid to the PA if it has entered into a pact with Hamas is illegal under the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006.

The subterfuges that the PA is using to avoid losing the U.S. and European funds that keep its kleptocracy operating are so obvious that surely even the Obama administration isn’t falling for them. As the Palestine Media Watch site pointed out, the PA’s practice of paying salaries to imprisoned terrorists is being discontinued. Instead of direct payments from the PA, the murderers will get their checks from the Palestine Liberation Organization. Where will the PLO get its money? From the PA out of the funds donated by the EU and the U.S, that’s where.

This cannot be allowed to stand. Though the president will be able to use the waivers included in the legislation to violate the clear intent of the legislation, Congress must exact a price for this underhanded subterfuge. Though the president can’t be directly stopped from giving the aid, this extralegal maneuver must be countered by either new legislation that prevents him from funding terrorists or by cuts in allocations to the State Department and future foreign aid bills.

As he has repeatedly shown in the past, President Obama views the rule of law as a flexible concept rather than one that obligates him to respect the will of Congress. But having flouted the law in this case, Congress must restrict his ability to funnel money to Palestinian terrorists in the future.

Read Less

Palestinians Unite to Preserve Corruption

The unity agreement that brought together the Fatah and Hamas Palestinian factions is, according to the New York Times, already paying dividends for the Palestinian people. According to the feature on the efforts to implement the accord, newspapers from the West Bank and Jerusalem are now on sale in Gaza and those from the Hamas-ruled enclave are now available on newsstands in the area run by the Palestinian Authority. That’s good news for consumers of the propaganda published by the two main Palestinian factions’ media operations.

Meanwhile, the Times is far more interested in the brewing controversy over what to do about the murders committed by the two factions against each other. A Palestinian commission is trying to get the families of the members of Fatah slaughtered by Hamas in its 2007 coup to accept monetary compensation rather than press their case and insist that the murderers be given the death penalty. The same is true of those families of Hamas members killed by Fatah. The pressure for the families to accept “social reconciliation” is yielding mixed results as many residents of both the West Bank and Gaza weaned on a culture of violence directed mainly against Israelis and Jews are focused on revenge and not much interested in the concept of forgiveness, even when applied to fellow Palestinians.

This dynamic will play a large role in whether this scheme will work in the long run. But of far greater interest to the rest of the world are two other questions that will impact both the chances of peace with Israel and the willingness of the international community to subsidize the PA: integration of the “security” forces employed by Fatah and Hamas and how to pay for all of the Palestinians in both factions that are being supported via no-work and no-show government jobs.

Read More

The unity agreement that brought together the Fatah and Hamas Palestinian factions is, according to the New York Times, already paying dividends for the Palestinian people. According to the feature on the efforts to implement the accord, newspapers from the West Bank and Jerusalem are now on sale in Gaza and those from the Hamas-ruled enclave are now available on newsstands in the area run by the Palestinian Authority. That’s good news for consumers of the propaganda published by the two main Palestinian factions’ media operations.

Meanwhile, the Times is far more interested in the brewing controversy over what to do about the murders committed by the two factions against each other. A Palestinian commission is trying to get the families of the members of Fatah slaughtered by Hamas in its 2007 coup to accept monetary compensation rather than press their case and insist that the murderers be given the death penalty. The same is true of those families of Hamas members killed by Fatah. The pressure for the families to accept “social reconciliation” is yielding mixed results as many residents of both the West Bank and Gaza weaned on a culture of violence directed mainly against Israelis and Jews are focused on revenge and not much interested in the concept of forgiveness, even when applied to fellow Palestinians.

This dynamic will play a large role in whether this scheme will work in the long run. But of far greater interest to the rest of the world are two other questions that will impact both the chances of peace with Israel and the willingness of the international community to subsidize the PA: integration of the “security” forces employed by Fatah and Hamas and how to pay for all of the Palestinians in both factions that are being supported via no-work and no-show government jobs.

While reform of the PA’s spending policies is key to any hope of building an economy for the Palestinians, the more immediate question is what to do about the glut of government workers in Gaza. For the last seven years 70,000 Fatah employees have been collecting their paychecks without having to show up for work in Gaza since the Hamas coup. Meanwhile, 40,000 Hamas supporters are also getting government paychecks for doing or not doing the same jobs. Since the economy of both the West Bank and Gaza is largely fueled by the paychecks that come from this patronage scheme, turning off the spigot for either of these groups would create a crisis that could lead to violence.

The fact that Hamas made do with only 40,000 government employees where Fatah had 70,000 is not so much a tribute to the efficiency of the Islamists as it is one to the vast scale of the patronage system that was put in place by PA leader Mahmoud Abbas’s predecessor Yasir Arafat. Suffice it to say that Hamas is no more likely to get a good day’s work from many of its 40,000 workers than Fatah was from most of its 70,000. But unless the PA can find a way to keep all 110,000 on the government payroll, there will be major trouble in the Strip, of which the suffering of the families of these “workers” will be just the tip of the iceberg.

But as much as this problem makes the struggles of American state governments with an expensive municipal bureaucracy look like child’s play, it must be recognized that such corrupt practices are the foundation of the Palestinian economy. Government corruption and regulations aimed at filling the pockets of PA leaders make normal economic development virtually impossible. The attempt of former PA prime minister Salam Fayyad to implement reform was a flop because both Palestinian parties opposed it. The only thing keeping the West Bank fiscally afloat is the money donated by the EU and the U.S. in order to pay an even larger number of PA patronage employees, few of whom are asked to lift a finger in exchange for the money.

Thus, while many Palestinian sympathizers have been lauding the unity agreement, it must be recognized that as much as it is an effort to allow the two factions to join forces to thwart peace, it also will help stop any movement toward reform and economic development. The point here is that the price of this unity is not only a situation where an unreconstructed Hamas that will not renounce violence or its war on Israel will ensure that peace never happens. It also means that the same international community that has been bilked for billions that wound up in the pockets of PA leaders and their families will now be expected to perform the same service for Hamas’s large payroll.

Unfortunately, rather than calling out the Palestinians for this trick, the European Union has announced it will continue aid to the PA. Just as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu predicted, unity will mean that Hamas and its terrorist cadres will operate behind a façade of PA bureaucrats while not only fomenting violence but also getting paid by the West for it.

This development should signal U.S. lawmakers that it is high time for them to push to enforce the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 that mandates a cutoff of U.S. aid to the Palestinians if Hamas is brought into the PA fold. Any further delays in doing so due to the Obama administration’s futile efforts to revive a peace process that was already dead the day Fatah and Hamas joined hands will only lead to American taxpayers paying a portion of the tab for all those no-show and no-work Palestinian jobholders.

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.