It’s hard to find anything shocking regarding Palestinian terrorism against Israelis, but this nugget after the latest violence in the name of peace around the Temple Mount comes close: The Palestinian Authority is paying $344 million a year to support imprisoned terrorists and the families of those killed or wounded in the act of trying to kill Israelis.
That’s 7 percent of the PA budget but equivalent to 49.7 percent of the foreign aid the Palestinian government receives, according to an analysis of the PA budget conducted by the Institute for Contemporary Affairs.
Let those numbers sink in. The government of President Mahmoud Abbas — now into the 13th year of his four-year term — feels that the best use of the aid that pours in from the United States, the European Union and others is not to develop the physical, political and economic infrastructure of the nation the Palestinians claim to want, but to thank terrorists for killing their neighbors.
Make no mistake: Each terrorist attack, successful or not, decreases the prospects for peace by making Israelis feel more vulnerable and less comfortable with the idea of being bordered on two sides by a hostile, independent Palestinian state.
The latest bitter example is Omar al-Abed, the 19-year-old Arab who knocked on the door of a Jewish family celebrating Shabbat at home in Halamish on July 21 and, when he was invited in, fatally stabbed a 70-year-old Jewish man and two of his adult children. He reportedly will receive $3,120 a month for life; by comparison, the average Palestinian engineer earns $1,300 a month.
It’s a lot easier to slaughter a few Jews than study for a degree and work hard all your life, especially when the PA gives the convicted terrorists pay raises despite, or in response to, international grumbling about such payments, which cause increasing consternation in London and Paris as their residents experience life under the constant fear of terrorism.
It’s time for the United States to do more than complain about the reward system for terrorist “martyrs.” It’s time to push ahead with a legislative solution introduced in February by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.): the Taylor Force Act, named for the Army veteran from Vanderbilt who was fatally stabbed by an Arab terrorist in Tel Aviv last year.
The bill would cut off U.S. foreign aid to the PA until it stops paying for acts of terrorism, thus forcing Abbas to make a choice between financing deadly violence and having the financial life choked out of his government.
The deceptively short, simple bill has its flaws, such as the risk of cutting off security cooperation (as Abbas did during the Temple Mount crisis). There’s no mechanism for reducing rather than eliminating the aid and no reward for cutting off the terrorist payments other than maintenance of the existing level of aid. Analyst Michael Koplow at the invaluable Ottomans and Zionists blog has suggestions to make the bill more effective without defanging it.
But it is simply immoral for the United States to continue giving the PA the financial ability to pay terrorists, and it must stop. Congress must pass the Taylor Force Act.