By MICHAEL FREUND, JPOST—
With the Palestinian Authority teetering on the brink of financial ruin, an unlikely deliverer has stepped in seeking to save the day. The would-be rescuer is neither a wealthy Gulf Arab sheikh nor a playboy Saudi prince with money to burn, nor even a misguided European government looking to curry favor with the Muslim world. Believe it or not, it is Israel that is now scrambling to salvage the PA from folding.
Yes, you read that correctly. At the very same time that Mahmoud Abbas is defying Jerusalem by threatening to ask the United Nations General Assembly to upgrade the status of “Palestine,” Israel is trying to save his regime from oblivion.
As Haaretz reported on Monday, “Israel has taken significant steps to ease the Palestinian Authority’s financial difficulties, fearing that instability in the West Bank threatens the PA’s future.”
These have included transferring tax money to the Palestinians ahead of schedule, issuing thousands of new permits for Palestinians to work within pre-1967 Israel and removing IDF checkpoints in Judea and Samaria. The Jewish state is also said to be lobbying various foreign governments to provide additional financial aid to the Palestinians, “as several Arab countries that had pledged $300 million to the PA have yet to fulfill their pledges,” Haaretz noted.
Yossi Kuperwasser, the director-general of Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry, was even more blunt in describing the government’s attitude. In a recent interview he declared that, “we want the PA to have stability and prosperity even if we have to fund it.”
It is difficult to describe this approach as anything other than sheer folly bordering on masochistic madness.
After all, the PA has made it abundantly clear that they view Israel not as their ally but as their nemesis. So why on earth shouldn’t we just allow the PA to crumble? Consider what the Palestinians are seeking to do at the UN.
Unless some heavy last-minute pressure deters them, the PA is going to relaunch their diplomatic campaign for independence by asking to upgrade their status to that of a non-member state. And they are also pushing for a resolution that would delineate the future borders of a Palestinian state as including all of Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.
As Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat made clear, these measures would pave the way for the PA to join other international bodies, undermine Israel’s claim to the territories and reinforce the Palestinian stance that the pre-1967 borders should serve as the basis for negotiations.
Moreover, Erekat hinted, it would eventually allow the PA to bring charges against Israel at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
“The occupation will continue, the settlements will continue, the crimes of the settlers may continue, but there will be consequences,” he said, adding, “Those who don’t want to appear before an international tribunal must stop their crimes.”
In effect, the PA is tossing nearly two decades of peacemaking attempts into the bin and threatening to tar Israel as a pariah nation.
Is this really the kind of regime that we want to resuscitate financially? And what makes this all the more ironic is the fact that despite its budgetary woes, the PA continues to spend tens of millions of shekels each month providing stipends to the families of terrorists and suicide bombers.
According to a report on Israel Channel 2 earlier this month, as of May 2011 the PA was spending NIS 26m. ($6.5m.) per month on payments to families of suicide bombers. They are also laying out an additional NIS 18m. ($4.5m.) each month in payments to the families of Palestinian prisoners, including those from Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Hence, the PA provides NIS 12,000 ($3,000) on a monthly basis to the family of Abbas al-Sayed, who was convicted of planning the 2002 Passover massacre at the Park Hotel in Netanya which murdered 30 Israelis.
All told, six percent of the PA’s entire budget goes toward such payments, which PA Prime Minister Salam Fayad, the darling of the West, generously chose to triple in size last year.
This means that for every $16m. that is passed along to the Palestinians, at least $1m. of it will go to supporting the relatives of terrorists who tried or succeeded to kill Jews.
This is nothing less than a moral outrage, one that only adds insult to injury for Israeli victims of terror and their families.
Israel has no business propping up the PA, which is a corrupt, authoritarian kleptocracy that foments violence and regularly engages in anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement. And we certainly should not be serving as their financial advisers and consultants, helping them to stave off bankruptcy.
If the PA insists on treating Israel like an enemy, then there is no reason why the Jewish state should not return the favor.
Instead of keeping the PA going, with all the trouble that entails, let’s do what we should have done long ago: reassert control over all of Judea and Samaria and sweep away this fetid regime.
Through its words and its actions, the PA has shown time and again that it has no real interest in coexistence or peace.
We cannot countenance the rise of a hostile entity straddling our narrow borders, especially one that refuses even to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
So let’s do ourselves and future generations a favor, and stem the tide of Palestinian statehood before it is too late.