Israeli Spokesman Acknowledges Government Giving Money to Cash-Strapped Palestinian Authority to Promote Stability, Rejects Poverty-Terrorism Link
“Israel strongly rejects the contention that poverty is a sufficient, or even a necessary, cause of terrorism,” a spokesperson for the country’s Consulate General in New York told The Algemeiner on Thursday, following a Wall Street Journal report that the Jewish state was coming to the financial aid of the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority to prevent further unrest and radicalism in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Indeed, continued Shimon Mercer-Wood, “there are countless examples of wealthy individuals espousing terrorism and of the most impoverished populations eschewing it. The simplistic claim that poverty causes terrorism is often used to divert attention away from incitement, radicalization and hate speech, issues that the government of Israel consistently raises in bilateral and international forums.”
However, Mercer-Wood added — to explain steps taken to alleviate debts accrued by the PA and make up for a severe decrease in money the PA has been receiving from Gulf benefactors such as Saudi Arabia — “Israel has a long-standing commitment to taking proactive measures aimed at promoting economic and social stability in the Palestinian Authority.”
This policy, he said, “is consistent with Israel’s humanitarian concern for the welfare of the Palestinian population and with its desire to support the creation of conditions conducive to peace.”
“Chaos and instability in the PA,” Mercer-Wood stated, “would not serve Israel’s security or political interests.”
This echoed sentiments — quoted by the WSJ — expressed by Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon in September, as Israel signed a deal with the PA to “restructure” payment of the $500 million that it owes the Israel Electric Corporation for power supplied to the West Bank.
“A stable Palestinian Authority economy is in Israel’s interests economically, politically, and in terms of security,” Kahlon said at the time.
In addition to the above assistance, according to the WSJ, “Israel so far this year has transferred about one billion shekels ($262 million) to the PA in one-off payments… [and] to boost the [PA’s] tax revenue, Israel has issued …permits to Palestinians to work in Israel.”
Asked how such financial assistance to the PA jibes with efforts underway — by organizations like Palestinian Media Watch — to persuade Western governments to cease transferring economic aid to an entity that has trouble paying the salaries of its own employees, yet provides hefty monthly stipends to the families of terrorists — Mercer-Wood replied:
Israeli diplomacy has sought, often successfully, to move donor countries to ensure that the funds they transfer to the Palestinian Authority are not channeled to rewarding terrorists and inciting terrorism. It has never been the policy of the government of Israel that all donor countries should completely cease all financial support of the PA.