About 15 years ago, when Natan Sharansky was minister of housing in Israel, he spoke of his frustration in having the Palestinian Authority reject an Israeli plan to help build modernized housing to replace Palestinian refugee camps. The reason, though not stated explicitly, was that there is more benefit to the Palestinian cause in having “homeless refugees” than families living in an enhanced degree of comfort.
We recalled that example of valuing propaganda over caring for one’s society when reading an Opinion essay this week in The Wall Street Journal by Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely. It was titled “Where Does All That Aid For Palestinians Go?” It’s an important and largely ignored question. According to the World Bank, foreign governments contributed more than $21 billion between 1993 and 2013 to the Palestinian Authority, with little to show for it in the way of positive development in terms of housing, hospitals, schools, businesses, etc.
Rather, Hotovely argues, “Large amounts of foreign aid to the Palestinians are spent to support terrorists and deepen hostility.” In addition to anti-Semitic hate speech spewed regularly from the Palestinian Authority’s television station and print media, terrorists and their families receive a monthly stipend of between $400 and $3,500 from the PA. (The average monthly wage of a Palestinian worker is less than $700.)
In 2014, the PA spent about $75 million in support of terrorists, which was about 16 percent of PA funds received from foreign donations. More recent figures are unavailable because the PA no longer reveals such information, according to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which compiled the figures.
Hotovely writes that when reports revealed how significant amounts of foreign aid were being used, the PA designated its offshoot, the PLO — both are headed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas — to distribute the funds to terrorists. Apparently no complaints came from the donor nations.
Citing a report by Global Humanitarian Assistance, aid to the Palestinians — $793 million in 2013 — is second only to assistance for Syria, with Palestinians receiving the highest per capita assistance in the world.
“It is difficult to come away from these facts,” Hotovely writes, “without realizing the deep connection between the huge amounts of foreign aid being spent, the bizarre international tolerance for patently unacceptable conduct by the Palestinians and the lack of progress toward peace on the ground.”
Whether it is a case of incompetent oversight or willful support for ongoing victimhood, donor nations are not just wasting their money. They’re using it to fund terror and perpetuate a dangerous divide in the Mideast.