Trump Cuts Palestinian Funding

The Trump administration will not continue subsidizing the so-called “moderate,” “non-violent” Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership clique in the vain hope that throwing more good money after bad will help bring about real peace or provide genuine help for the Palestinian people. This clique is made up of lying hypocrites, who fund and glorify terrorists while corruptly diverting aid money and donations to their own personal benefit.

Last Friday, a State Department official announced to reporters that it would redirect U.S. financial assistance of more than $200 million originally intended for the Palestinian Authority and projects in the West Bank and Gaza. This cut in bilateral aid is on top of the previously announced cut of nearly $300 million in U.S. financial support for the discredited UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) denounced the Trump administration’s latest funding cut decision. “The rights of the Palestinian people are not for sale,” PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement. “There is no glory in constantly bullying and punishing a people under occupation” through what she characterized as “economic meanness.”

The more than $200 million of intended U.S. financial aid to the Palestinians was originally included in the current 2018 budget year that ends on September 30. The money was to be used to help pay for the promotion of good governance and for support of health and education services. However, these noble-sounding purposes have little to do with the Palestinian leaders’ real agenda for the funds sent their way. The Coalition for Accountability and Integrity chronicled, in its 2017 report on Palestinian corruption, a whole list of examples of corrupt financial practices, including a multimillion dollar vanity project that “is not and never was a priority for Palestinians, given the urgent need to finance vital services such as health and education.” Putting yet more hard-earned American taxpayers’ money into the Palestinian cesspool of corruption will only deepen the cesspool. Even worse, Palestinian government leaders have used some of the money they received to reward Palestinian terrorists and their families. The Palestinians spend approximately $350 million a year for their terrorist slush fund, which goes to provide such ‘pay to slay’ benefits as a monthly stipend and a pension for life that is triple the average salary in PA areas.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) issued a report last week reviewing how Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his leadership clique have been enablers of Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians. On July 23, 2018, for example, at a ceremony honoring the imprisoned terrorist suspects and the slain terrorists he referred to as “martyrs,” Abbas said, “We will neither reduce nor withhold the allowances of the families of martyrs, prisoners, and released prisoners, as some want [us to do]; if we had only a single penny left, we would pay it to families of the martyrs and prisoners.” With that kind of perverted sense of priorities, not a penny of U.S. taxpayers’ money should end up under the control of Abbas and his cohorts.

Last March, Congress decided that it had enough of Palestinian duplicity and passed the Taylor Force Act as part of a $1.3 trillion budget bill, named for an American stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist in 2016. The Palestinian Authority praised the terrorist, killed by the Israeli police following his dastardly attack, as a “heroic martyr.” The terrorist’s family was rewarded with lifelong financial compensation, a practice that the Taylor Force Act is intended to deter by cutting off most U.S. funding to the PA until it stops such payments to Palestinian terrorists and their families.

The United States is not the only country that has decided to stop turning a blind eye to the Palestinians’ “pay-to-slay” scheme. Earlier this summer, Australia decided to withhold financial aid to the Palestinian Authority if it did not discontinue rewarding terrorists and their families. “I am concerned,” said Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, “that in providing funds for this aspect of the PA’s operation, there is an opportunity for it to use its own budget to [fund] activities that Australia would never support.” Instead of heeding the warning, the Palestinians doubled down. Hanan Ashrawi, the same PLO Executive Committee member who whined about what she called the Trump administration’s “economic meanness,” called Foreign Minister Bishop’s remark “extremely insulting.”

Abbas, Ashrawi and the rest of the Palestinian leadership clique have insulted the good intentions of donors, including American taxpayers, for far too long. These leaders are manipulative scam artists, many of whom are corrupt to the core and who enable terrorism through their financial subsidies to the terrorists and their families. Fortunately, the Trump administration appears to have their number at long last.

Joseph Klein