September 26, 2018

PA Reportedly Gives $3,350 to Family of Killer of Pro-Israel Activist

Screenshot from Twitter.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) reportedly gave $3,350 to the family of Khalil Yusef Ali Jabarin, the 17-year-old Palestinian who stabbed to death Israeli activist Ari Fuld, 45, hours after the murder took place.

Avi Mayer, the assistant executive director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), tweeted on Monday that Israeli media reported that $3,350 is the “initial payment” to the terrorist’s family:

According to the Jerusalem Post, Jabarin’s family is currently set to receive nearly $400 a month over the next three years.

The PA reportedly has given approximately $330 million to terrorists and their families in 2017 and 2018 under its “pay-to-slay” policy, the Post reported.

The United States and Israel recently have passed laws to cut funding to the PA to leverage the entity into ending the “pay-to-slay” policy.

Before collapsing, Fuld, who was a married father of four, was able to shoot Jabarin after the terrorist stabbed him. Thousands of people attended Fuld’s funeral.

John Kerry Admits to Meeting Iran Leaders During Trump Presidency

Screenshot from Twitter.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry, who is promoting his new memoir, admitted on Wednesday that he has met with the Iranians multiple times during Donald Trump’s presidency, although he denied that he was doing so to save the Iran nuclear deal.

In May, prior to Trump’s decision to leave the Iran deal, the Journal reported that Kerry met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and other foreign leaders to salvage the deal. Kerry told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Wednesday that he met with Zarif a few times.

“I met with him [Zarif] at a conference in Norway,” Kerry said. “I think I saw him in a conference in Munich at the World Economic Forum. So I’ve probably seen him three or four times.”

Hewitt followed up by asking Kerry if he was coaching Zarif on preserving the Iran deal, which Kerry denied.

“You know, that’s not how it works,” Kerry said. “What I have done is tried to elicit from him what Iran might be willing to do in order to change the dynamic in the Middle East for the better. You know, how does one resolve Yemen? What do you do to try to get peace in Syria? I mean, those are the things that really are preoccupying, because those are the impediments to people, to Iran’s ability to convince people that it’s ready to embrace something different.”

Kerry added, “I’ve been very blunt to Foreign Minister Zarif, and told him look, you guys need to recognize that the world does not appreciate what’s happening with missiles, what’s happening with Hezbollah, what’s happening with Yemen. You’re supporting you know, an ongoing struggle there. They say they’re prepared to negotiate and to resolve these issues. But the administration’s taken a very different tack.”

Kerry also said that he thought Trump should have stayed in the Iran deal, arguing that under the deal “you have China, Russia, these other countries with you in the effort to leverage this different behavior from Iran rather than unilaterally pulling out and isolating yourself and making it much more difficult to sit down with any Iranian.”

Later in the day, Kerry was asked by Fox News’ Dana Perino if he told the Iranians to simply hold out until 2020, when Trump could be voted out of office. Kerry replied with a chuckle, “I think everybody in the world is sitting around talking about waiting out President Trump,” but he said that was in regard to other matters, not the Iran deal.

“When I met with the Iranians, the policies of the United States was still to be in the Iran deal because the president had not decided and not pulled out,” Kerry said. “Secondly, every former secretary of state continues to meet with foreign leaders, goes to security conferences, goes around the world. We all do that, and we have conversations with people about the state of affairs in the world in order to understand them. We don’t negotiate. We are not involved in interfering with policy.”

According to the Jerusalem Post, Kerry allegedly told Hussein Agha, who is described as a “close associate” to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, that Abbas should not make any concessions to Trump in a peace agreement until 2020, as Kerry argued that Trump would be out of office by then. Kerry also said he was “seriously considering running for president in 2020,” per the Jerusalem Post report. When CBS News asked Kerry if he was going to run for president in 2020, he didn’t rule it out.

United States to Shut Down PLO’s D.C. Office

REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

The Trump administration announced on Tuesday that they would be shutting down the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)’s office in Washington, D.C., the latest in a series of steps taken by the administration to crack down on the Palestinian Authority.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said they were making this move because “ the PLO has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.”

“To the contrary, PLO leadership has condemned a US peace plan they have not yet seen and refused to engage with the US government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise,” Nauert said. “As such, and reflecting congressional concerns, the administration has decided that the PLO office in Washington will close at this point.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu applauded the move in a statement.

“Israel supports these actions that are meant to make it clear to the Palestinians that refusing to negotiate and attacking Israel in international forums will not bring about peace,” Netanyahu said.

According to the Times of Israel, Abbas is furious with the decision and will say “some very undiplomatic things” against Trump at the United Nations General Assembly.

Palestinian Authority officials told Israel’s Channel 10 that Trump is “an enemy of the Palestinian people and an enemy of peace.”

“The American president is encouraging terror and extremism with his policies that could lead to violence in the region, which will explode in the faces of Israel and the US,” the officials said.

According to Jewish Virtual Library, the PLO was initially formed in 1964 with the stated goal of the destruction of Israel and Zionism through violent means. The group has committed numerous acts of terror, including the hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship in 1985. The terrorists murdered a Jewish man, Leon Klinghoffer, who was confined to a wheelchair during the hijacking.

Even though the PLO renounced terrorism in 1993, former PLO chairman Yasser Arafat incited intifadas against Israelis, as has Abbas, Arafat’s successor.

Britain’s Corbyn Reportedly Met With Hamas Leaders in 2010

Photo from Wikipedia.

A recent report from i24 News states that UK Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn met with Hamas leaders in 2010, back when he was a largely unknown member of parliament.

According to i24, Corbyn visited Hamas leaders Aziz Dweik, Mahmoud al Ramahi, Muna Saleem Mansour, Naser Abd El-Jawad and Omar Abdel Razeq in Ramallah, as well as Hamas leaders Ahmed Attoun, Khaled Abu-Arafah and Muhammad Totah in East Jerusalem. Corbyn did not meet with a single Jewish Israeli on his trip.

After the trip, Corbyn wrote in The Morning Star, “It is time to bring those Israelis who committed crimes against humanity to account and to end the EU [European Union] Israel Trade Agreement while the occupation and settlement policy continues.”

The trip was funded by Middle East Monitor (MEMO) and Friends of Al-Aqsa. The aforementioned groups provided Corbyn with £927 ($1,500), well above the £660 ($840) gift threshold in which MPs have to report to parliament. But Corbyn never reported the trip to parliament.

The i24 report is the latest in a series of Palestinian terror-related controversies for Corbyn. Photos unearthed by the UK Daily Mail showed Corbyn laying a wreath at a Tunisia ceremony commemorating the 1972 Munich terrorists. An August 21 Daily Mail report showed photos of Corbyn in 2015 speaking to Hamas supporters in Parliament, including one Hamas supporter who said he wished he could conduct a suicide bombing for “Palestine.”

Palestinian Ambassador Manuel Hassassian praised Corbyn and the Labour Party for being “principled” on their watered-down anti-Semitism rules. Hamas said they “Salute Jeremy Corbyn’s supportive positions to the Palestinians.”

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Visits Family of Terror Victim. PA Calls His Visit ‘Provocative’

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

David Friedman, the United States ambassador to Israel, visited the family of 31-year-old Yotam Ovadia, who was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist on July 26. The Palestinian Authority (PA) denounced Friedman’s act of sympathy as “provocative.”

The PA Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it condemns “the provocative visits by the ambassador of the Trump administration to Tel Aviv to settlements in the occupied West Bank.”

Friedman responded in a tweet:

 

 

 

Friedman visited Adam (Geva Binyamin) outside Jerusalem on July 30 during the Ovadia family’s weeklong Shiva to pay his condolences.

“I was heartbroken to see the tragic impact of the murder of Yotam Ovadia — a young mother left alone to care for two small children, parents grieving for their only son,” Friedman said when he left the Ovadia home. “Words are insufficient to describe the evil and barbarity of the terrorist act.”

Ovadia was stabbed to death by 17-year-old Palestinian terrorist Mohammad Tareq Yousef, who also injured two other Israelis before being shot to death by one of his victims. The other two Israelis have survived their injuries.

“Shocked to hear of the brutal terror attack in Adam that left 31 year-old Yotam Ovadia dead and two others injured,” Friedman tweeted at the time. “My heartfelt prayers for all the families. All life is sacred, but premeditated murder cries out for condemnation. Not hearing it from Palestinian leadership.”

Friedman’s predecessor, Daniel Shapiro, visited the families of those murdered by Palestinian terrorists on a couple of occasions.

Israel, Australia Cut Payments to Palestinian Authority

Alaa Badarneh/Pool via Reuters

Israel and Australia are joining the United States in cutting payments to the Palestinian Authority (PA) over the body’s financial incentives for Palestinians to commit acts of terror against Israelis.

The Knesset passed a bipartisan bill by a margin of 87-15 that would deduct each shekel used by the PA to pay Palestinian terrorists and their families to a fund allocated toward providing aid for victims of terror attacks.

“We must stop the economic inventive the Palestinian Authority provides to terrorists, an incentive that encourages others to commit terror,” Yesh Atid MK Elazar Stern, a co-sponsor of the law, said. “Every Palestinian youth will understand it doesn’t pay to choose the path of terror.”

Similarly, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced on July 2 that Australia would cease its funding to the PA altogether.

“I am concerned that in providing funds for this aspect of the PA’s operations there is an opportunity for it to use its own budget to (fund) activities that Australia would never support,” Bishop said in a statement. “Any assistance provided by the Palestine Liberation Organization to those convicted of politically motivated violence is an affront to Australian values and undermines the prospect.”

In response, PA spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh called the Israeli law a “declaration of war against the Palestinian people” that would result in “serious repercussions.”

According to the Times of Israel, the PA gave $198 million the families of terrorists in 2017 as well as $160 million to terrorists serving in prison in the same year.

On March 23, President Trump signed the Taylor Force Act into law, which ceases funding to the PA until ends its financial support of terrorism.

Dem Senate Candidate Calls Jerusalem Move An ‘Incitement to Violence’

Screenshot from Facebook.

Texas Senate Democratic candidate Rep. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke called the moving of the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem an “incitement to violence” at a June 24 campaign event.

Video of the event shows that a woman identifying herself as a Muslim asking O’Rourke where he stood on the move; she called it “arguably one of the worst humanitarian disasters our world faces today.”

O’Rourke responded by calling the move “unnecessarily provocative.”

“Everyone who knows anything about the Middle East, who knows the status of Jerusalem and East Israel, the status of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority and the state of Israel knew there were going to be those that would suffer as a result, as they predictably have,” O’Rourke said.

O’Rourke added that the move hasn’t done anything to help achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and claimed that as an ally to both, the U.S. can leverage Israel into ending West Bank settlements.

“It’s going to be up to those two powers to produce the peace, but we can do a better job and we can certainly stop providing incentives and incitement to violence, which I think that move did,” O’Rourke said.

Since the embassy move happened, there have been riots at the Israel-Gaza border that have resulted in Palestinian deaths – several of whom were terrorists – although since then the size of the riots has declined.

The latest poll shows O’Rourke trailing incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) by 10 points.

H/T: Free Beacon

 

PA Continuing Payments to Terrorists Despite Taylor Force Act

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas looks on during a reception ceremony for Bulgarian President Rumen Radev in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, March 22, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

The Palestinian Authority (PA) is reportedly continuing their practice of funneling money to terrorists and their families despite the recent passage of the Taylor Force Act, which states that the United States will cut off funding to the PA if they continue to pay terrorists.

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reported that shortly after the Taylor Force Act’s passage, a PA spokesman declared that they would be defying the law, stating, “In the eyes of our people, our nation, and our cause, the martyrs and prisoners are sacred symbols of freedom, struggle, protecting human dignity, and resistance to submission and humiliation. They constitute a right that is guaranteed to all people, and they cannot be bought and sold for all the money in the world.”

Furthermore, according to PMW, almost 8% of the PA’s 2018 budget uses money toward their fund to pay terrorists and their families.

Legislators in Israel and the United States are irate that the PA’s policy is still ongoing, with Knesset Member Oren Forer telling the Washington Free Beacon that any peace deal reached between Israel and the PA should ensure that such payments end.

“It is impossible that our so-called peace partners are paying and incentivizing murder, while pretending to talk peace,” Forer said.

The Taylor Force Act was signed into law on Mar. 23 as part of an omnibus spending bill. It was named after a U.S. veteran who was murdered at the hands of a Palestinian terrorist in March 2016. The terrorist, 22-year-old Bashar Masalha, is being paid $400 a month by the PA.

The PA paid Palestinian terrorists and their families $347 million overall in 2017. The PA received $357 million from the U.S. in 2016.

Taylor Force Act Signed Into Law As Part of Spending Bill

Screenshot from Twitter.

The Taylor Force Act was signed into law on Mar. 23, as it was included in the $1.3 trillion spending bill to fund the government.

President Trump officially signed the spending bill in a signing ceremony, stating that while he had multiple reservations about the overall bill, it needed to be signed for the defense spending.

When the bill passed the Senate on Mar. 22, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), one of the authors of the Taylor Force Act, hailed the law as “one of the most significant pieces of legislation I’ve been involved with.”

“The powerful message from the Force family, along with effort from the pro-Israel community led by Sander Gerber, have made this possible,” Graham said.

The Taylor Force Act, named after the United States veteran who was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in March 2016, ends funding to the Palestinian Authority (PA) until they stop providing financial incentives for Palestinian to commit acts of terror against Jews.

“The Taylor Force Act was made possible in part due to the work of two of the IAC’s biggest supporters — Haim Saban and Sheldon Adelson – representing both sides of the aisle to promote this important legislation,” the Israeli-American Coalition (IAC) for Action said in a statement. “Despite their political differences on some other issues, Mr. Saban and Mr. Adelson worked hand-in-hand to promote broad bipartisan support for this bill and prevent American taxpayer dollars from continuing to subsidize terror.”

Additionally, AIPAC lauded the bill for giving $3.1 billion to Israel for security assistance, $705.8 million for “missile defense cooperation” between Israel and the U.S. and $47.5 million to help Israel fight against Hamas’ use of tunnels for terror.

As the Journal has previously reported, the PA provided $347 million to Palestinian terrorists and their families in 2017, giving them well beyond what the average Palestinian earns per month if they murder Jews. The U.S. gave the PA $357 million in 2016.

U.S. Media Largely Ignored Abbas’ ‘Son of a Dog’ Slur Toward U.S. Ambassador

FILE PHOTO: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the UN Security Council at UN headquarters in New York, U.S., February 20, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is in hot water for calling United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman a “son of a dog” over the weekend, yet it didn’t really receive much coverage from U.S. media outlets.

In their weekly talking points brief, The Focus Project – an organization that features the consensus view of various Jewish organizations on matter the of Israel and anti-Semitism – noted the lack of attention on Abbas’ comments in U.S. media.

“Major news outlets in the U.S., such as the New York Times, Washington Post and CNN ignored this story entirely or buried it by carrying syndicated wire reports instead of doing original reporting,” The Focus Project wrote. “Statistics show they are obsessed with a narrative where Israel is the oppressor and Palestinians are passive victims.”

The links provided in the aforementioned statement show nothing from CNN about Abbas’ comments; the New York Times and Washington Post covered Abbas’ by running a report from Reuters and the Associated Press (AP), respectively. ABC News also relied on the AP’s wire service to report on the matter and Yahoo News used a report from Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The Journal searched the sites of NBC News, CBS News and Fox News and found nothing on Abbas’ comments.

This would certainly not be the first time that the U.S. media has been accused of having an anti-Israel bias, as Newsbusters has documented how the media once falsely reported that Pope Francis called Abbas “the angel of peace” and didn’t give much coverage on Abbas declaring in 2011 that he would never recognize a Jewish state and that Israel was committing “ethnic cleansing.”

Abbas’ latest comments stemmed from him being angry that Friedman claimed they were building settlements on land that belonged to Israel, prompting the PA president to exclaim, “You son of a dog, building on their own land? You are a settler and your family are settlers!” Abbas is now attempting to walk back that comment, as one of his advisors is now saying that “dogs are pets in the Arab world, and they are generally viewed positively.”

Abbas Calls U.S. Ambassador to Israel a ‘Son of a Dog’

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends Fatah Revolutionary Council meeting in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank March 1, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas railed against United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman as a “son of a dog” in a Mar. 19 speech to PA leadership.

Abbas was irked that Friedman is a staunch supporter of the Israelis building settlements in Judea and Samaria.

“The ambassador, David Friedman, said they’re building on their own land,” Abbas said. “You son of a dog, building on their own land? You are a settler and your family are settlers!”

Friedman pushed back against Abbas and denounced the PA president’s remarks as anti-Semitic.

“Anti-Semitism or political discourse?” Friedman said in a speech at Jerusalem. “Not for me to judge, I will leave that up to you.”

U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert also slammed Abbas’ comments as “outrageous and unhelpful.”

“We urge the Palestinian Authority to focus its efforts on improving the lives of the Palestinian people and advancing the cause of peace,” Nauert said. “The administration remains fully committed to those goals.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted that Abbas’ “son of a dog” remark showed that he was becoming unhinged:

This is the latest example of Abbas bitterly lashing out with various snipes toward the Trump administration for their recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Back in December, Abbas refused to meet with Vice President Mike Pence on his Middle East trip and has repeatedly said that the PA will no longer accept a peace deal brokered by the U.S.

Before Abbas made his “son of a dog” comments, Friedman ripped into Abbas for failing to condemn the murders of two Israeli soldiers at the hands of Palestinian terrorists:

Abbas Criticizes US and Israel in UN speech; Haley Fires Back

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the UN Security Council at UN headquarters in New York, U.S., February 20, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas gave a speech at the United Nations on Feb. 20 criticizing the United States and Israel on hampering peace negotiations.

Abbas railed against the Trump administration’s actions on recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and cutting funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).

“In a dangerous, unprecedented manner, this administration undertook an unlawful decision which was rejected by the international community to remove the issue of Jerusalem off the table without any reason,” Abbas said.

The PA president added, “This administration has not clarified its position. Is it a two-state solution, or the one-state solution?”

Abbas then claimed that the Palestinians have a historical connection to Israeli land.

“We are descendants of the Canaanites that lived in Palestine 5,000 years ago, and have continuously remained there to this day,” Abbas said.

Abbas also went after Israel for being a “permanent settlement colonization.”

“We are working for the occupation, we are employees for the occupation, and we say that Israel must be held to its obligations as an occupying power,” Abbas said.

Abbas advocated for Palestine to have full member status at the U.N. and for a two-state solution mediated by a “multilateral international mechanism.”

Abbas walked out of the room when he was finished speaking, prompting Haley to remark to the PA president, “Our negotiators are sitting right behind me, ready to talk. But we will not chase after you. The choice, Mr. President, is yours.”

“The United States knows the Palestinian leadership was very unhappy with the decision to move our embassy to Jerusalem,” Haley added. “You don’t have to like that decision. You don’t have to praise it. You don’t even have to accept it. But know this: that decision will not change.”

Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon criticized Abbas for inspiring “a culture of hate in Palestinian society.”

“When we extend a hand, Abbas extends a fist,” Danon said.

Report: Trump Admin, PA Haven’t Talked In Over a Month

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Relations between the Trump administration and Palestinian Authority (PA) have chilled to the point where they haven’t spoken to each other in over a month.

According to the Jerusalem Post, the chief negotiators in the Israel-Palestine conflict – Jared Kushner and Jonathan Greenblatt – haven’t had any sort of dialogue with the PA since Dec. 6, when President Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, although there have been some meetings with Palestinians that have been kept under wraps.

“They’re under a lot of pressure not to talk,” a top White House official told the Jerusalem Post. “It doesn’t bode well for what we’re trying to create if there’s no freedom of speech among the Palestinians. So that troubles me greatly, and we’re trying to figure out how to deal with it.”

Since Trump’s Jerusalem move, PA President Mahmoud Abbas has become increasingly unhinged and hostile toward the United States. He recently gave a speech in which he “he deployed anti-Semitic tropes, undercut the Jewish connection to Israel, and blamed everyone from Oliver Cromwell to Napoleon to Winston Churchill for Israel’s creation” and “repeatedly cursed President Donald Trump (“may your house fall into ruin”),” according to The Atlantic.

Abbas has also stated that the PA won’t accept any peace agreement mediated by United States and wants Europe to have greater involvement in such talks. On Tuesday, Abbas gave a speech at the European Union (EU) headquarters in Brussels and called for East Jerusalem to be the capital of Palestine, and the EU gave him his support.

Despite all this, the Trump administration remains undeterred in their attempts to forge a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, as the White House official told the Post they will eventually put forward a “plan that we think is appropriate, reasonable, fair for both sides, in particular for the Palestinians to have a brighter future.”

“It’s going to be up to the parties to make their decisions if they can come to terms on a deal,” the official said.

Abbas Fails His People — Again

When Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas described Israel as a “colonialist project that is not connected to Judaism” — as he did in a speech last week that was littered with anti-Semitic overtones — the natural reaction from the pro-Israel community was to condemn the lies and defend the truth.

Abbas’ libelous speech, in fact, was condemned across the political spectrum. Even J Street released a statement saying there was “no excuse for calling into question either the Jewish connection to, or Palestinian recognition of, the state of Israel — or for language and proposals that are justifiably earning widespread condemnation.”

Moderate commentator Ben-Dror Yemini on Ynetnews characterized the speech as “More hallucinations. More illusions. More rejectionism” — adding that Abbas’ real problem is not with the creation of Israel in 1948 or the expansion of the state after 1967 but the Balfour Declaration of 1917 that first supported the Jews’ right to a national home.

The reason Abbas is obsessed with the 1917 recognition of Jewish sovereign rights is that it undermines his faux narrative that Israel is a colonialist state rooted in European guilt after the Holocaust. As long as he can position the Jewish state as an artificial project that punished Palestinian Arabs, he can claim the mantle of victimhood and continue his diplomatic war against the legitimacy of Israel.

This addiction to victimhood is also crucial to his retention of power. Put yourself in Abbas’ shoes. His people live in misery while, next door, the hated Jewish state thrives. Doubling down on victimhood means he can blame every Palestinian hardship on Israel.

It also justifies saying no to every peace proposal, as Palestinian leaders have done for decades. After all, if Israel is the result of Jews stealing Arab land, what is there to negotiate? There is only one thing a thief must do, and that is return the stolen goods in full — and maybe even throw in a penalty for emotional damages.

If Palestinian leaders ever conceded the 3,000-year Jewish connection to the Holy Land, it would explode the edifice of lies they have told their people. It would force them to acknowledge that Jews also have sovereign rights, which would force them to accept compromises. It would mean they’d have to admit that their problem with Israel is not with the settlements that came after 1967 but the settlements that came after 1917. It would mean they’d have to accept at least some responsibility for the miserable state of their failed society.

Even for those who tend to blame Israel for the absence of peace, it’s hard to deny the fundamental obstacle of one party completely denying the legitimacy of the other.

The minute Abbas himself concedes the legitimacy of the Jewish state, an avalanche of pressure would descend upon him. All of a sudden, he would have to look at the hated Zionist state as a partner rather than a thief and start caring for the welfare of his people. All of a sudden, he’d have to actually produce results.

Compare that to the status quo. By sticking to his narrative of exclusive victimhood at the expense of Jewish oppression, Abbas is celebrated around the world. He continues to cash in on “humanitarian” aid that fills his coffers and that of his cronies; he continues his diplomatic and legal war against Israel at the United Nations and international criminal courts; and, above all, he’s off the hook to make any compromises for peace.

For a corrupt liar who has contempt for Zionism, this status quo is, well, heaven on earth.

There is, of course, one complication in this whole picture — the Palestinian people. The day they realize they have been lied to for so long by their own leaders is the day those leaders will abandon their villas in Ramallah and hop on their private jets to any country that will take them.

That day may come sooner than they think.

According to a poll conducted in the summer of 2016 by the reputable Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research and published in Al Monitor, 65 percent of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip want Abbas to resign.

Among the reasons cited, journalist Ahmed Labed from Gaza City told Al Monitor: “President Abbas, who has been in power for 11 years, has been illegitimately occupying the presidential office. His mandate expired in January 2009. Moreover, throughout the period of his presidency, Abbas hasn’t accomplished any noteworthy achievement for the Palestinians.”

His major “accomplishment” has been to malign and undermine the Jewish state and instill hatred in his people for their Jewish neighbors, all while pretending to be a “moderate” to the world.

Even for those who tend to blame Israel for the absence of peace, it’s hard to deny the fundamental obstacle of one party completely denying the legitimacy of the other, especially when that party has an interest in maintaining that lie.

Israel has made its share of mistakes. Its biggest, perhaps, is that it never had a long-term strategy for handling the territories captured in 1967, especially in Judea and Samaria. This has allowed Palestinian leaders to place all the blame for the absence of peace on the growth of Jewish communities in these territories.

Never mind that Palestinian leaders have rejected every peace offer made by Israel without ever making a counteroffer. As bad as those rejections have been for Israel, they’ve been even worse for the Palestinians.

How Much Did the PA Pay Terrorists Last Year? Here Are the Numbers.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a press statement with French President (unseen) after a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, December 22, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Mori/Pool

It has long been known that the Palestinian Authority (PA) funnels money to terrorists and their families as a financial incentive for terrorism, and now the exact figures for 2017 are known thanks to a report from Israel’s Defense Ministry.

According to the Jerusalem Post, the Defense Ministry found that the PA paid terrorists and their families over $347 million in 2017. The minimum they provide is $580 per month for a terrorist sentenced to 3-5 years in prison. That number increases to $2,900 if a terrorist is sentenced to 20-35 years in prison. A terrorist earns extra money if they are married with children and if they reside in Israel.

By comparison, the average Israeli citizen earns $2,700 per month and the average Palestinian earns $580 per months, thereby showing that the PA is dangling money to entice Palestinians into committing acts of terror against Jews.

“The minute the amount of the payment is decided according to the severity of the crime and the length of the sentence – in other words, whoever murders and is sentenced to life in prison gets much more – that is funding terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens,” Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. “There is nothing that better illustrates the PA’s support for terrorism. We must stop this.”

To combat the PA’s funding of terrorism, Israel’s Defense Ministry is proposing a bill that would allow ministers to deduct tax revenue Israel provides to the PA based on how much the PA paid terrorists.

Read the full report here.

The official figures provided by the Defense Ministry isn’t too far off from The Algemeiner’s estimation that the PA paid $355 million to terrorists in 2017.

In December, the House of Representatives passed the Taylor Force Act, which states that the U.S. will cease funding the PA so long as they continue to provide funding to terrorists. The bill is expected to pass the Senate and President Trump will likely sign it if it reaches his desk.

Fatah Central Committee member Azzam Al-Ahmed recently declared that the PA would continue to fund terrorists and their families in spite of the threat of the U.S. threats of ending funding to the PA.

Fatah Central Committee Member: PA Will Continue to Fund Terrorists

Screenshot from Twitter.

A Fatah Central Committee member reiterated on Thursday that the Palestinian Authority (PA) will continue its policy of funding terrorists despite President Trump’s threat to end funding to the PA.

The committee member, Azzam Al-Ahmad, said the following:

Al-Ahmad’s declaration comes after Trump tweeted on Tuesday that he would end funding to the PA if they refused to engage in the peace process:

According to Palestinian Media Watch, Al-Ahmad has served on the Fatah Central Committee since 2009. Back in October, Al-Ahmad called the Balfour Declaration “a historical mistake.”

“The Palestinian people, which is standing firm in the occupied homeland and outside of it, expects you to stand alongside it in its ongoing struggle – since the Balfour Promise (i.e., Declaration) from British Foreign Secretary [Arthur Balfour] 100 years ago – for its freedom and the achievement of its national rights like the rest of the peoples of the world,” said Al-Ahmad. “We hope that Britain will correct its historical mistake against our people.”

Al-Ahmad has also called for violence against Israel in October.

“It is the Palestinian people’s right to wage the struggle against the occupation using all the methods, but there should be a consensus on its form,” said Al-Ahmad. “We have not eliminated any method from our considerations, nor from our principles since the [Fatah] Launch [in 1965] until today: Popular resistance, armed struggle, and negotiations. If violence breaks out again, Israel will be responsible for it.”

The PA paid terrorists and their families $355 million, providing a major financial incentive for Palestinians to commit acts of violence against Jews. At the beginning of December, the House of Representatives passed the Taylor Force Act, which states that funding to the PA will end if they continue to fund terrorists. The White House has signaled that the president will sign the legislation if it reaches his desk.

Trump Signals He’ll End Aid to Palestinians If They Don’t Agree to Peace Talks

FILE PHOTO - U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during an address from the White House in Washington, U.S., December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Picture

President Trump signaled in a tweet on Tuesday the United States could be ending its financial aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) if they continue their refusal to cooperate in peace talks.

After tweeting that the U.S. would cease to provide aid to Pakistan for their ties to terrorism, Trump announced that the PA could be next on the chopping block.

“We pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect,” Trump tweeted. “They don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue peace treaty with Israel.”

Given that the Palestinians are refusing to engage in peace talks, Trump asked, “why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?”

United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley also told reporters at the U.N. headquarters in New York City that funding to United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) could be cut as well.

“The president has basically said that he doesn’t want to give any additional funding until the Palestinians are agreeing to come back to the negotiation table,” said Haley. “We’re trying to move for a peace process but if that doesn’t happen the president is not going to continue to fund that situation.”

Trump and Haley’s statements come after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared that the Palestinians would reject any peace offers from the U.S. and called for Europe to play a larger role in mediating Israeli-Palestinian peace talks after Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Abbas also refused to meet with Vice President Mike Pence.

According to the Times of Israel, in 2016 the U.S. provided the PA with over $357 million in aid and over $355 million to the UNRWA.

The PA currently provides financial incentives for Palestinians to commit acts of terrorism against Jews, as they funneled $355 million to terrorists and their families in 2017. Abbas himself has rejected prior peace deals and incited intifadas against Israelis.

According to U.N. Watch, the UNRWA teachers incite “Jihadist terrorism and antisemitism, including by posting Holocaust-denying videos and pictures celebrating Hitler” to Facebook.

 

Poll: 70% of Palestinians Think Abbas Should Step Down

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

A new poll has found that the vast majority of Palestinians think that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas should resign from his position.

According to the Palestinian Center for Policy and Research, 70% of Palestinians want Abbas to step down while only 26% want him to stay on. Of the two Palestinian regions, 64% of Palestinians in the West Bank want Abbas to resign as do 80% in the Gaza Strip, which is run by Hamas.

Abbas’ overall approval rating is at 31% positive and 66% negative. His policies are not viewed in a positive light by the Palestinians, as 61% don’t think they can criticize the Palestinian Authority (PA) “without fear” and 77% view the PA as corrupt. Only 12% view the conditions of the West Bank as “positive.”

The 70% number is an increase from 67% three months, suggesting that Abbas’ electoral prospects in an election following a reconciliation government are dwindling. The poll found that in a three-way race between Abbas, terrorist Marwan Barghouti and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, Abbas would get trounced, as 41% would support Barghouti and 36% would support Haniyeh while Abbas would only receive 18% support.

The full poll results can be read here.

The poll numbers have come amidst Abbas facing pressure from Jordan and Egypt to turn down his rhetoric against the United States following President Trump’s Jerusalem move:

Abbas is refusing to meet with Vice President Mike Pence in light of Trump’s move.

Abbas has ruled the West Bank with an iron fist. He was elected as the PA president in January 2005, he has prevented elections from being held since then in order to hold onto power. Abbas’ record includes jailing journalists and political opponents, even going as far as torturing them.

Taylor Force Act Easily Passes House

Photo from Facebook.

The Taylor Force Act unanimously passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday, which stipulates that the Palestinian Authority (PA) would lose United States funding if it continues paying the families of terrorists.

The bill, which is named after an American who was murdered by a Palestinian in 2016 and served in Iraq and Afghanistan, states that there are exemptions for wastewater projects, child vaccine programs, East Jerusalem hospitals and has a six-year sunset clause. It was first introduced by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO).

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) lauded the bill after its unanimous passage in the House.

“If you finance or reward terrorism, you don’t deserve a penny from the United States,” Ryan said in a statement. “The Palestinian Authority should be forced to choose between its despicable practice of paying terrorists’ salaries and receiving foreign aid funded by the American taxpayer. And until that time comes, no government that supports the murder of innocent civilians can claim to be a serious partner for peace.”

Ryan later added, “In Taylor’s memory, I look forward to the Senate passing this legislation so we can send it to the president’s desk.”

The bill is expected to pass the Senate. President Trump has not specifically stated that he would sign it, however it has been reported that he “supports its principal objective.”

Under what has been dubbed as the PA’s “pay to slay” policy, terrorists who attack Jews receive $400 per month from the PA; if they murder a Jew they receive $3,400 per month, according to JNS.org’s Stephen Flatow. Each of those aforementioned figures are increased in accordance to the length of the terrorist’s sentence. The families of dead terrorists receive $100 per month if the terrorist isn’t married; a dead terrorist’s widow receives $250 month. By contrast, the average Palestinian earns $150 per month, thereby creating a financial incentive for Palestinians to commit acts of terror.

In total, the PA has paid terrorists and their families $355 million in 2017.

The family of Force’s murderer, 22-year-old Bashar Masalha, currently receives $400 a month from the PA, which ignited the political will for the Taylor Force Act. In 2016, the U.S. provided $357 million in aid to the PA.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) tweeted out their gratitude to the House for passing the bill:

Others argue that the exemptions weaken the original intent of the bill to the point where it would be ineffective if signed into law.

The Taylor Force Act Advances the Path to Peace

Photo from Facebook.

Today, a Palestinian kindergartener living in Ramallah is surrounded by messages that demonize and dehumanize Israelis, while glorifying violence against them. Leaving their house in the morning, this child sees billboards that pay tribute to suicide bombers. Arriving at school he or she will read textbooks that encourage the murder of Jews. In media and mosques, Palestinian leaders spew invective, describing Jews as “satans” and calling Israel a “cancerous tumor that needs to be eliminated.”

This is not a fertile environment from which the conditions for peace emerge. Seeds of peace are watered by tolerance and mutual understanding, when leaders communicate to their people the need to give up old hatreds and accept paths of compromise. Yet, instead of raising the next generation of Palestinian children to embrace peace, the official institutions of the Palestinian Authority (PA) continue to lay the ground for further conflict and hatred.

The PA will devote some $344 million of its 2017 budget—which amounts to half of its foreign development assistance—to financially reward terrorists and their families. The budget allotment for rewarding violent acts is more than $100 million greater than the amount that the PA spends on welfare for Palestinians living under the poverty line. The welfare package for families of terrorists, incidentally, is higher than the welfare paid to impoverished Palestinian households, while the stipend for Palestinians held in Israel for violent acts is over four times the average salary in the West Bank. The priorities of the PA are laid bare by these discrepancies, and these priorities are clearly not peace.

The United States has a number of levers at its disposal to put an end to these practices. American taxpayers provide funding that is designed to support the development of Palestinian institutions—around $300-$500 million each year. Since its establishment in 1994, the Palestinian Authority has received more than $5 billion in bilateral economic and non-lethal security assistance from the United States, including assistance for the PA’s security forces and criminal justice system.

In order to make sure these funds are used for their intended purpose, the U.S. Congress is now considering the Taylor Force Act, which is named after an American citizen and Army veteran murdered by a terrorist while on vacation in Israel. This necessary piece of legislation advances the prospects for peace by conditioning continued U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority on the PA ending its policy of financially rewarding terrorists and their families. This would prevent hundreds of millions of dollars from incentivizing terror, so that these funds can be used towards the necessities of institutional development.

This summer, the Israeli-American Coalition for Action, where I serve as Chairman, initiated a wide-ranging advocacy campaign to bring together a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers in support of this legislation. Israeli-Americans know firsthand—from our personal experience, through our friends and families who live in Israel, and through our consumption of Hebrew-language news—why ending this practice is so important for peace. Yet, as taxpayers in the United States, we continue to fund it.

In unprecedented ways, the IAC for Action’s nationwide networks of grassroots activists and some of the most prominent and influential Israeli-Americans and Jewish-Americans in our community have been engaged with their elected officials in support of the legislation.

As a result of our work, the bipartisan group of lawmakers publicly supporting the Taylor Force Act—originally introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)—has grown significantly. House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) have introduced their own version of the bill, which will be marked up in the Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday and is expected to pass with overwhelming bipartisan support.

Like the Israeli-American community, Congress understands that opposition to a rewards scheme for acts of terror by the PA is not a question of right or left, or Democrat or Republican. It is a question of right and wrong, of peace and terror. America can help move Israelis and Palestinians forward on the difficult path to peace by ending this subsidy for terror.

Saudi Arabia to Abbas: Take Trump’s Peace Plan or Resign

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia November 7, 2017. Saudi Press Agency/Handout via REUTERS

Saudi Arabia has issued an ultimatum to Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas: take up the Trump administration’s Israel-Palestine peace plan or step down from your position.

The Times of Israel reports that Saudi King Salman Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman brought Abbas in for a meeting and told him to “accept Trump’s peace plan or quit” as well as to rebuff any Iranian efforts to influence the PA.

The Saudi monarchy also reportedly demanded any cooperation between members of Fatah and Hezbollah, the Iranian proxy terror group, cease immediately.

However, a Palestinian Authority official pushed back on the notion that Saudi Arabia issued any sort of threat toward Abbas.

“The talk was about coordination, and it focused on three points,” the official told Haaretz. “One, supporting reconciliation and the president’s position on the arms issue; two, economic assistance; and three, that any diplomatic and regional settlement will be based on the Arab peace initiative, without any change.”

Political analyst Mazen Safi told the Jerusalem Post that the Saudis’ meeting with Abbas was meant to establish himself as “a power broker” in light of the Gulf Kingdom’s escalating tensions with Iran.

“Support from Arab countries is crucial and Abbas’ trip reinforces the need to assist the Palestinians against all obstacles,” said Safi. “Palestinian reconciliation requires the efforts of all Arab countries—and not just the Palestinians—since it will positively affect the region.”

The Trump peace plan that Salman referred to reportedly features some type of two-state solution that attempts to make all parties happy.

“For Israel, those could include limiting settlement construction to current blocs without taking new land, recommitting to a two-state solution and redesignating a small part of the West Bank to give Palestinians more control,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reports. “The Palestinians could be asked to resume full security cooperation with Israel, hold off seeking further international recognition and end payments to families of Palestinians imprisoned for terrorist attacks.”

Saudi Arabia has long provided aid to the PA under the pretext that the PA provides political support to the Gulf Kingdom.

IDF Won’t Apologize for Killing Terrorists in Hamas Tunnel Blast

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) will not apologize for killing terrorists while blowing up a Hamas tunnel on Monday.

IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis said that the explosion, which killed seven terrorists, wounded 12 others and left five terrorists missing wasn’t meant to harm any Palestinian. Education Minister Naftali Bennett used Manelis’ statement to claim that the IDF was apologizing for killing terrorists.

“These were terrorists involved in digging an attack tunnel inside Israeli territory with which they intended to kill Israeli women and children,” Bennett tweeted.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman fired back on Twitter, writing that “comments like this seriously damage the security of Israel and the IDF.” Yesh Atid MK Elaza Stern, a former IDF general, issued a statement denouncing Bennett’s comments and stating that the IDF in no way apologized for the killing of terrorists.

“It is a shame that government ministers, instead of backing the IDF after an incident like this, chose once again to use it to score political points at the army’s expense,” said Stern.

Two of the terrorists killed in the tunnel explosion were senior commanders for the terrorist organization Islamic Jihad.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has responded to the tunnel explosion by accusing Israel of using poison gas to kill the terrorist, who they referred to as “martyrs.”

“We call on all of the international organizations to stop these materials that the Israeli occupation is using against our unarmed people,” PA Health Ministry Spokesman Ashraf Al-Qudra said to the PA’s news outlet.

Hamas has called the explosion “a dangerous escalation against our people” and Iran referred to Israel as the “blood-sucking Zionist regime” in response to the explosion.

Palestinian Authority Colombia mission quotes Arafat in calling for the destruction of Israel

Palestinian students stand in front of a mural depicting late Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin and late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, in Gaza City October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE.

The Palestinian Authority mission in Colombia called for the destruction of Israel in a tweet on Thursday that has been deleted.

The tweet, written in Spanish, is a quote from Yasser Arafat that states, “Our goal is the end of Israel, and there can be no compromises or mediations…. We don’t want peace. We want WAR and victory.”

Here is a screenshot of the tweet:

Israel’s Foreign Ministry denounced the tweet, describing Arafat’s legacy as “death, hatred and disgust.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented on it as well:

The Palestinian Authority has yet to offer any sort of statement in light of the deleted tweet. The Israeli ambassador to Colombia alerted law enforcement in the area about the tweet.

The tweet comes as Hamas, an organization whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews, could potentially join the Palestinian Authority as part of a unity government. Israel has listed a set of conditions that Hamas must abide by in order for it to negotiate with such a unity government, but Hamas has rejected those conditions.

Yasser Arafat is considered to be “the Father of Modern Terrorism”, as his record includes orchestrating the Achille Lauro bombing in 1985, waging intifadas against Israel and introducing the idea of using commercial airplanes as a weapon, which al-Qaeda later used in the 9/11 terror attacks. Arafat also declared in 1996, “We will not bend or fail until the blood of every last Jew from the youngest child to the oldest elder is spilled to redeem our land!”

Hamas reaffirms goal to destroy Israel

Hamas militants take part in a military parade in Gaza. Suhaib Salem/ Reuters

Hamas is rejecting the notion that they need to recognize Israel’s right to exist and disarm their military as they’re in the process of potentially forming a Palestinian unity government.

Israel and the United States have demanded that Hamas renounce violence and respect Israel’s existence if they do form a unity government with the Palestinian Authority. Hamas leader Yehia Sinwar has rejected such demands, declaring in Gaza: “The time in which Hamas discusses the issue of recognizing Israel is over. The discussion now is about ‘when to wipe out Israel.”

Sinwar also scoffed at the request for Hamas to disarm its 25,000-member military.

“Nobody in the world can take away our weapons,” said Sinwar. “Not one minute in the day or night passes without our forces accumulating them. We are freedom fighters and revolutionaries for the sake of our people’s freedom.”

Sinwar was responding to Jason Greenblatt, the White House Middle East peace envoy, who announced in a statement on Thursday, “Any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognize the State of Israel, accept previous agreements and obligations between the parties – including to disarm terrorists – and commit to peaceful negotiations. If Hamas is to play any role in a Palestinian government, it must accept these basic requirements.”

Israel has issued a list of preconditions that Hamas would have to agree to in order for the Jewish state to negotiate with a Palestinian unity government, including ending their ties with Iran and returning dead Israelis to Israel.

Hamas and Fatah, two rival Palestinian factions, recently reached a reconciliation agreement in Cairo and will begin negotiations to form a unity government in November. The Palestinian Authority responded to Israel’s set of demands by stating that they will continue “to move forward with the reconciliation efforts.”

Hamas’ charter explicitly calls for the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews. They have attacked Israel repeatedly and were accused by Amnesty International of abducting, torturing and executing Palestinians during the 2014 Hamas-Israel conflict.

Israel lists conditions to negotiate with Fatah-Hamas unity government

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem May 21, 2017. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Israel has made it clear it will not negotiate with any unity government between Fatah and Hamas unless a set of conditions are met.

In a Facebook post on the Israeli prime minister’s Facebook page, the Israeli government stated that they would not negotiate with a Palestinian government that includes Hamas unless Hamas disarms, ceases their terrorist activity, ends relations with Iran and return the bodies of dead Israelis to Israel.

The Israeli government also demands that the Palestinian Authority cracks down on “Hamas terror infrastructures in Judea and Samaria” and “exercise full security control in Gaza” as well as be the channel of any humanitarian aid toward Gaza.

The Palestinian Authority and Hamas are in negotiations to form a unity government after signing a reconciliation agreement in Cairo, Egypt. The Palestinian Authority is urging Hamas to disarm, but Hamas thus far has been reluctant to cease their attacks on Israel.

“There are no secret clauses in the reconciliation understanding, and what the occupation published on the resistance halting in the West Bank is not true,” Hamas spokesman Husam Bradran told a Palestinian news outlet. “The position to choose resistance is not connected to any person or entity, but rather it is the position of the entire Palestinian people to decide. The natural situation is that when there is an occupation, there will be a resistance to confront it.”

Hamas has been designated by the United States’ State Department as a terrorist organization. They came to power after winning Palestinian Legislative Council elections in 2006, resulting in a civil war in Gaza that ended with Hamas seizing control of the region. Hamas and Fatah have had prior unity agreements before that did little to ease tensions between the two groups.

With America’s blessing, Abbas signals a reconciliation with Hamas

US president Donald Trump with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during a welcoming ceremony in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on May 23. Photo by Flash90

The Trump administration is encouraging the Palestinian Authority to assume control of the Gaza Strip and leaving the door open for a role by Hamas in the subsequent Palestinian government.

But if such a move was once seen as a traditional predicate to a two-state solution, top Palestinian leaders are hedging their bets, saying they would not rule out a “one-state” solution in which Palestinians have the same one-person, one-vote rights as Israelis. Israeli leaders have long said that would mean the end of the Jewish state.

Palestinian Authority government officials returned this week to the Gaza Strip, the first en masse visit — by Cabinet and security officials along with top bureaucrats — since Hamas’ bloody ouster of P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement a decade ago.

It was a visit twice blessed by the Trump administration, first through a statement last week by the Quartet, the grouping of the United States, Russia, the European Union and Russia that guides the peace process, and again Monday with a statement from Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s top international negotiator.

“The United States welcomes efforts to create the conditions for the Palestinian Authority to fully assume its responsibilities in Gaza, as noted in the September 28 Quartet statement,” Greenblatt said in a statement he posted on Twitter.

The Quartet statement, while itself also abjuring mention of “two states,” made it clear that it foresaw a single Palestinian entity under P.A. rule. It urged “the parties” — the Palestinian Authority and Hamas — “to take concrete steps to reunite Gaza and the West Bank under the legitimate Palestinian Authority.”

This week’s P.A. visit to Gaza, brokered by Egypt, a key ally to the United States and Israel, is only for several days, but Husam Zomlot, the PLO envoy to Washington and a top Abbas adviser, anticipated a consolidation of the Palestinian Authority presence there.

Zomlot, speaking Monday to reporters here, noted that Hamas dissolved its governing body last week and said the Palestinian Authority expected this week that Hamas would formally hand over governance of the strip. The final stage, he said, would be elections.

“The return of the Palestinian Authority” to Gaza “is a milestone for the Palestinian Authority and of President Trump’s deal of the century,” Zomlot said, using a phrase Abbas used in a meeting with Trump on Sept. 20.

A signal of the White House’s seriousness is the likelihood that Hamas will continue to play a role in governing the strip. Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, heeding Israeli concerns, rejected any role for Hamas in Palestinian governance, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said repeatedly it would be a deal breaker.

Now, however, careful phrasing by U.S. and Palestinian officials strongly suggests that Hamas will not fade into the night. Zomlot called the changes in Gaza “the return of the consensus government,” the joint Hamas-P.A. venture that existed uneasily in 2006-07 and infuriated the administration of George W. Bush.

Greenblatt in his statement nodded to concerns about Hamas, a State Department-designated terrorist group, but in language vague enough to accommodate a Hamas role.

“Any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognition of the state of Israel, acceptance of previous agreements and obligations between the parties, and peaceful negotiations,” Greenblatt said.

That elides over earlier Israeli demands that not just a Palestinian government, but all of its components, must renounce violence and recognize Israel.

Netanyahu, speaking Wednesday to a Likud party meeting in the West Bank, maintained — at least in part — a tough line on the terms of a reconciliation acceptable to Israel. He said Hamas must be disarmed, but did not count out explicitly keeping Hamas figures within the Palestinian Authority bureaucracy.

“We expect everyone who talks about a peace process to recognize the State of Israel and, of course, to recognize a Jewish state, and we are not prepared to accept bogus reconciliations in which the Palestinian side apparently reconciles at the expense of our existence,” Netanyahu said in Maale Adumim, a settlement of 40,000 located just east of Jerusalem.

“Whoever wants to make such a reconciliation, our understanding is very clear: Recognize the State of Israel, disband the Hamas military arm, sever the connection with Iran, which calls for our destruction, and so on and so forth. Even these very clear things must be clearly stated,” he said.

Without mentioning the two-state goal, Greenblatt’s statement nevertheless called on the Palestinian government to abide by “previous agreements.” These would presumably include the 2003 “road map” that was to have culminated in Palestinian statehood.

Still, Zomlot said the Palestinians wanted more clarity from the Trump administration.

“We cannot travel a journey without knowing a final destination,” he said. Zomlot referred to Trump’s news conference with Netanyahu in February, when the president said, “I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like.”

From the launch of the Oslo process in 1993 until now, Palestinian Authority officials have spoken of a one-state outcome only in pessimistic terms, casting it as a dystopia engendered by a failed process. Last month, addressing the United Nations General Assembly, Abbas in a first for a Palestinian leader said that if the two-state option collapses, Palestinians could embrace one state. It would not be a predominantly Jewish state covering Israel and most of the West Bank, an outcome popular among the Israeli right, but a binational state in which West Bank and Gaza Palestinians have full rights as citizens.

Abbas warned in his U.N. address that in the failure of a two-state solution, “neither you nor we will have any other choice but to continue the struggle and demand full, equal rights for all inhabitants of historic Palestine. This is not a threat, but a warning of the realities before us as a result of ongoing Israeli policies that are gravely undermining the two-state solution.”

Zomlot expanded on that possibility at his news briefing Monday.

“As long as we mean one man and one woman, one vote, we are fine with this,” he said, adding however that the two-state solution “remains absolutely the best option.”

Zomlot also addressed the Taylor Force Act, legislation named for an American stabbed to death last year by a Palestinian terrorist that would slash funding to the Palestinian Authority as long as it continued to subsidize the families of Palestinians jailed for or killed attacking Israelis.

Palestinians say the payments mostly go to the families of the wrongfully imprisoned. Zomlot said the Palestinians proposed a tripartite commission, to include the United States, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, that would consider whether to remove some families from the payrolls.

“We have engaged with the administration, we have a trilateral commission,” he said. “We would offer to the United States to be the sole arbitrator and we will accept [the decision]. Guess who rejected it? Israel.”

A senior Trump administration official suggested that Zomlot was overstating the offer.

“We only received a brief general outline about this proposal which did not answer key questions or present a viable solution to the real problem, which is the official policy of paying terrorists and their families,” the official told JTA.

A senior Israeli official told JTA that the offer missed the point — the Palestinians can stop the payments on their own.

“The Palestinians don’t need Israel, the U.S. or anyone else, they just need to do it,” the official said. “Unfortunately they won’t.”

White House explains redirected funds to Palestinians

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and U.S. President Donald Trump at he White House on May 3. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

A White House official confirmed Jewish Insider’s report on Wednesday that the Trump administration had quietly transferred an additional $20 million to Palestinian wastewater programs after the funds were frozen from an Egyptian economic aid package. “The State Department came to us and said they had identified this particular piece of money and these were, if I recall, FY2016 (Fiscal Year) funds that disappear at the end of September,” the White House official told Jewish Insider last week.

[This article originally appeared on jewishinsider.com]

However, the Trump administration source objected to an assertion made by a Congressional aide that the Trump administration was rushing to move the funds to West Bank water programs before the Taylor Force Act could be passed. Last month, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the Taylor Force Act, legislation introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) that would cut off all U.S. economic aid that “directly benefits” the P.A. until they cease payments to families of terrorists. “There was a particular window for this so that the money would be used. TFA (Taylor Force Act) would have no impact on this even if they passed it tomorrow. There wasn’t an ‘oh my gosh, let’s get this money before Taylor Force passes,’” the White House official added.

The official said that there were numerous Palestinian projects that the U.S. would like to support. “But when you have terrorists stabbing American citizens in the back and tax paying dollars used to support these people, the President said very clearly to President Abbas in both Washington and Bethlehem in May, this is intolerable to us,” the source emphasized.

On a separate note, the White House official declined to opine regarding an announcement from Hamas last week that the U.S. designated terror group would dissolve the Gaza administrative committee and move towards a unity government. “Our feeling is very much wait and see. There have been lots of attempts at this before,” the White House official noted. “We appreciate the Egyptians (mediation) efforts to try and come to some resolution to do this.”

After Hamas won the 2006 parliamentary elections, the Islamist party joined with Fatah to form a national unity government in March 2007. The Bush Administration condemned this Palestinian government and refused to provide it with any assistance. This policy lasted until June 2007 when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas dismissed the unity government following Hamas’ military coup in Gaza. Given the longstanding US policy of boycotting Hamas, any openness by the Trump administration towards the Islamist group playing some sort of internationally recognized political role is considered noteworthy.

Abbas rebuked U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman during his September 20 speech at the U.N. General Assembly for referring to the “alleged occupation” of Palestinian territories. When asked if the White House agrees with Friedman regarding the “alleged occupation” or the State Department that quickly clarified its decades old policy of calling the West Bank “occupied territory,” the White House official responded, “That’s simply not my question to answer. I am going to let David (Friedman) speak to that. It wasn’t my call. My personal views aren’t really relevant. That was his statement so I would refer that to him.”

Despite some reports that the U.S. is planning a regional summit with Israel and Arab Gulf states to accelerate the peace process, the Trump administration official noted that no such meeting is currently in the works.

The White House official declined to elaborate on the timetable when the U.S. plans to present Israelis and Palestinians with its peace plan or if there have been any concrete advancements towards peace during talks with Netanyahu or Abbas.

Asked what options the administration was considering, in light of the President’s unwillingness to exclusively back a two state solution,  the White House official explained, “It goes back to the other question. The President said one state or two states: it’s for the two parties to agree on. It’s not for us to say: here are your options.”

Lavishing praise on Netanyahu’s UN address, the White House source explained, “It was a very strong speech. Obviously, the President appreciated the strong expression of support. It doesn’t make us unhappy to have the Prime Minister of Israel very pleased with President Trump’s speech and perhaps the Venezuelans, Iranians and North Koreans less so. It draws a very clear contrast between the leaders of other countries. I thought the very positive message this year about what Israel offers the world was extremely valuable.”

Trump quietly transfers $20 million to Palestinian programs

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, right, meeting with Jason Greenblatt, U.S. President Donald Trump’s envoy, at the Arab League Summit in Amman, Jordan, on March 28.

The Trump administration has quietly directed an additional $20 million towards projects that would ‘directly benefit’ the Palestinian Authority, Capitol Hill sources told Jewish Insider“It means that the Trump administration is trying to get money out of the door before Taylor Force (Act) goes into effect,” a Congressional aide explained.

[This article originally appeared on jewishinsider.com]

Last month, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the Taylor Force Act, legislation introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) that would cut off all U.S. economic aid that “directly benefits” the P.A. until they cease payments to families of terrorists. With the Senate Appropriations Committee including the Taylor Force Act in its most recent annual Foreign Operations Budget, the bill is almost certain to pass by the end of 2017.

In August, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson withheld $30 million of economic aid from Egypt, citing Cairo’s harsh restrictions on human rights organizations. Congressional staffers asked the administration about the reprogramming of this funding and were told that $20 million of the sum would be spent on West Bank and Gaza programs that would “directly benefit” the P.A.

During the Obama administration’s final hours, the U.S. quietly sent $221 million to projects in the Palestinian territories despite significant Congressional opposition. Representative Kate Granger (R-TX) slammed the Obama White House for the move, even though she acknowledged that none of the money went directly to the P.A.

Jason Greenblatt, the U.S. Middle East envoy, has trumpeted a July water deal signed with the P.A., Israel and Jordan as one of the administration’s top accomplishments to date in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. A Congressional staffer explained that the U.S. assistance to the “Red-Dead” water agreement “directly benefits the PA, and therefore would not be able to continue” once the Taylor Force Act is implemented as advanced out of committee.

In a speech on Monday, Greenblatt emphasized the importance of wastewater projects in the West Bank and Gaza, while he also encouraged international donors to assist the P.A. with its budget difficulties.

Last week, the State Department announced that it “strongly supports the Taylor Force Act, which is a consequence of the Palestinian Authority and Palestine Liberation Organization’s policy of paying terrorists and their families.” The State Department did not immediately respond to Jewish Insider’s request for comment.

Hamas and Fatah try again to move toward Palestinian unity

Chief Palestinian negotiator Azzam al-Ahmad of Fatah (front right) walks to a meeting with a Hamas delegation at a hotel in Cairo following reconciliation talks in September 2014. A new effort is underway. Photo by Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

The long-awaited reconciliation between Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah has taken a new turn with the announcement by Hamas on Sept. 17 that it would dissolve its administrative committee — the body that effectively serves as the governors of the Gaza Strip since Hamas took control from Fatah and the Palestinian Authority in 2007.

The Islamist group apparently has agreed to take the action and to abide by other conditions that Fatah set forth for implementing a reconciliation agreement. Several of the conditions have been signed in recent years but none has been implemented. The new initiative, brokered by Egypt, includes an invitation for Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to oversee a unity government for the Gaza Strip immediately.

The Hamas declaration was released one day after the PA’s delegation reached Egypt after meetings last week between a visiting Hamas delegation and the head of the Egyptian Intelligence Agency, Khaled Fawzi.

Hamas’ promising press release is something Palestinians have been waiting for since the signing of the first reconciliation agreement in Egypt in 2011. The statement also mentioned that new elections will soon be held in Gaza, and that Hamas is willing to accept Egypt’s invitation to meet with the PA under Cairo’s aegis. Hamas said all of these decisions were made with the desire to establish a unified Palestinian government that includes all political parties that were signatories to the 2011 agreement.

Wassel Abu Yousef, a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee, cautioned that while the Hamas press release is important, it must be followed by action — specifically, practical steps to implementation, unlike after previous attempts at reconciliation.

“The Palestinian Authority needs to go to Gaza to assess the current governmental infrastructure and prepare for the elections to come,” he said. Abu Yousef also warned that follow-up was critical to end the division, and he expressed appreciation for Egypt’s role in initiating and providing the venue for the political reconciliation.

“The Palestinian Authority needs to go to Gaza to assess the current governmental infrastructure and prepare for the elections to come.”

In recent months, Hamas has sought to improve its relationship with Egypt in several ways, including issuing a new charter that removed its association with the Muslim Brotherhood — Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s nemesis. The Muslim Brotherhood’s relationship with Hamas had been the catalyst for the Sisi government to eschew Hamas and refuse its pleas for assistance. Hamas needs Egypt to allow passage of goods and people through the Rafah crossing, the only crossing point not controlled by Israel. It also needs Sisi’s help in obtaining goodwill gestures from Israel, such as medical treatment for Gazans.

Having been teased several times since 2011, Palestinians-at-large were not optimistic that the latest developments would spell unity.

Abdel Rahman Haj Ibrahim, head of the political science department at the West Bank’s Birzeit University, pointed out that the Palestinian government has not made an official statement despite the PA sending a delegation to Egypt.

“Nothing is solid or official,” he said. “Hamas and Fatah have two different political agendas, they have no mutual points, and there will be no reconciliation without the two parties finding mutual grounds.”

He cautioned, “No one knows what is going to happen. Remember, more than once has there been talk of reconciliations but there were no results on the ground.”

A former member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a rival group to both Fatah and Hamas, explained under the condition of anonymity that the Palestinian people have no faith in either of the two factions involved in the talks.

“For the last 15 years, we have needed a unified government to fight settlements and the occupation, to support prisoners during the strike. … We needed one unified official political Palestinian entity, but they failed to put aside their differences.”

He agreed, however, that the Palestinian reconciliation is a necessary step that needs to be taken in order to reunify the Palestinian people.

“The bad situation in Gaza is a result of Fatah and Hamas and their respective governments, which resulted in corruption and disingenuousness,” he said. “They need to work on regaining the trust of their people.”

Palestinian Authority seeks membership in UN tourism body

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on March 27. Photo by Yves Herman/Reuters

A request filed by the Palestinian Authority last year to join the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is slated to come to a vote this week at the body’s summit in Chengdu, China.

In order for the Palestinians to gain acceptance, two-thirds of the UNWTO’s member states need to approve.

[This article originally appeared on themedialine.org]

Speaking to The Media Line, Vice President of the PA Mahmoud Al-Aloul (“Abu Jihad”) confirmed that the Palestinian leadership is being heavily pressured to not proceed with its bid.

“All I can tell you in this regard is that President Mahmoud Abbas will give a speech in China.”

He further revealed that PA is in the process of filing a request to the International Criminal Court to oppose the expansion of Israeli settlements,” among other issues.

In response, Israel has embarked on a diplomatic campaign to block the PA’s request to join the UNWTO. “Palestine is not a state and cannot be accepted as such in the United Nations or any of its affiliated organizations,” according to a statement released by the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

For his part, Hassan Ka’bia, a Deputy Spokesman at the Ministry told The Media Line “that all attempts by the PA to gain memberships at the UN will ruin the serious Israeli efforts to renew peace talks and will have no effect on the ground.

“At the end of the day,” he concluded, “our allies at the UN, including the U.S., are very strong and supportive of Israel so the Palestinians will not get anything there.”

In this respect, the latest move by the Palestinians to “internationalize” the conflict comes as U.S. President Donald Trump is engaged in a push to jump-start Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, having sent his top envoys to the region on multiple occasions since his inauguration. Accordingly, the proposed moves by the PA risk derailing the effort.

“We will go to the United Nations anyways as well as the International Criminal Court,” Nabil Sha’ath, a senior Palestinian official, retorted to The Media Line. He said that this was necessary because while the Palestinians had already accepted the principles of the Oslo Accords they are looking for “peace on the ground and not just on paper.”

Sha’ath stated that under ideal circumstances there would be no need for the Palestinians to look to the UN, but that Israel had not held up its end of the bargain.

Ironically, the latest row over the UN comes against the backdrop of the Arab League’s decision to green light a proposal by the PA to form a high-level committee whose purpose is to block Israel’s attempts to be elected as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

According to the Ma’an news agency, the case against allowing Israel a turn on the Security Council roster will include the familiar charge regarding Israeli building on lands it conquered in the 1967 war that are claimed by the Palestinians for a future state; as well as accusations directed against Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of having “introduced more than 20 racist legislations reflecting a systematic policy seeking to deface the historic rights of the Palestinian people.”

There formerly existed a longstanding convention that peace between Israel and the Palestinians could only come about through direct negotiations; however, this changed on September 23, 2011, when Abbas submitted a formal application to join the UN, which was overwhelmingly accepted one month later in a General Assembly vote.

Soon after gaining overall non-member observer state status in the institution, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) became the first affiliated agency to grant full membership to the Palestinians.

But the Palestinians’ momentum was soon stunted, as U.S. President Barack Obama decided to cut off funding to UNESCO, in line with Washington’s belief that the conflict with Israel can only be solved through the direct diplomacy of the peace process. As the Americans provide a huge portion of the UN’s overall budget, other bodies got the message and the Palestinians, despite repeated warnings to further pursue the UN route, have since not been accepted into any other related associations.

That is, until the anticipated UNWTO vote this week.

Perhaps the Palestinian leadership is being driven by an absence in faith in Trump, or maybe the bid to join the UNWTO is simply a method of applying pressure on his administration, which is reportedly in the process of formulating a formal policy on the conflict.

Some analysts believe it could also be meant to send Israel a message; namely, that the status quo will simply no longer suffice.