Everyone knows, even people who don’t really follow the intricacies of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, that the Obama administration and numerous journalists and academics consider the settlements and sometimes even the announcement of new Israeli housing in Jerusalem, to be obstacles to a resumption of negotiations.
Less said, often not said at all, is that settlements were not forbidden by the Oslo accords or subsequent peace agreements but their existence was to be negotiated rather than a precondition to negotiations. What was to be a non-negotiable precondition was an immediate end by to the Palestinians official and monetary support for individual terrorists and terrorist movements. These preconditions have never seemed to capture the same great passion — certainly not among campus critics nor critics in the political arena — that the settlement issue has.
A few weeks ago, the official Palestinian Authority newspaper, Al-Hayat Al Jadida, reported — according to a translation by the highly respected Palestinian Media Watch, an Israeli group — that the PA is currently depositing salaries into the accounts of more than 5,500 terrorists in Israeli jails. Not all Palestinian prisoners in Israel get salaries, just terrorists, killers of Israelis. The salaries average more per month ($3,200) than even the salaries for Palestinian civil servants ($2,800). The families of suicide bombers receive a monthly check, as well. The story of these salaries for terrorists has subsequently been reported by the Jerusalem Post, Fox News, the Daily Mail (UK) and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. That this salary scandal has not been reported more widely is itself scandalous.
The PA has almost no significant or independently generated sources of income, other than foreign aid. The United States provided nearly $600 million to the PA in 2010. In legislation restricting foreign aid, Congress stipulated that the secretary of state must “ensure that such assistance [to the PA] is not provided to or through to any individual, private or government entity [that] engages in, or has engaged in, terrorist activity.” Clearly, the PA has done that, and the administration hasn’t ensured that it wouldn’t.
At a time of runaway U.S. debt, perhaps both parties might agree that a good place to save millions might be on money sent to the PA if the PA continues to give that money to the killers of more than 2,000 Israeli civilians.