No Peace Possible While Palestinian Authority ‘Sanctifies’ Terror, Israeli Victim Families Caution Top Trump Aides
Relatives of victims of Palestinian terror attacks on Friday warned Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt — the two emissaries of US President Donald Trump charged with reviving direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations — that a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority (PA) will be impossible until it definitively ends both funding for the families of imprisoned terrorists and wider incitement against the Jewish state.
“This is madness,” Arnold Roth — whose 15-year-old daughter, Malki, was murdered along with 14 other people when a suicide bomber struck the Sbarro pizza restaurant in downtown Jerusalem on August 9, 2001 — told The Algemeiner.
“No progress towards peace will ever come if we tolerate the ongoing sanctification of terrorism by the Palestinian Arabs,” Roth said.
Roth was speaking following reports from Palestinian sources that PA President Mahmoud Abbas was said to have been “fuming” following a meeting with Kushner on Thursday during which American objections to the practice of “martyr payments” to terrorists and their families — to tune of $183 million annually — were raised.
In recent weeks, the Trump administration has sent out mixed signals regarding its policy on the payments. But after Thursday’s meeting with Kushner, one PA official complained to Haaretz that Kushner and his team “sounded like (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu’s advisers and not as honest mediators.”
Some bereaved family members believe that the Trump administration has not fully grasped what the continuing payments suggest about the hatred for Israel stoked among ordinary Palestinians.
“I’m scratching the back of my head a bit, because everyone is focusing on the payments,” Stephen Flatow — whose daughter Alisa was murdered in a suicide bombing attack on an Israeli bus near Kfar Darom in the Gaza Strip in 1995 — said after the meeting between Kushner and Abbas.
Flatow thinks the elephant in the room is the continuing incitement against Israel within the PA, particularly among Palestinian children.
“If there is no correct education about what it means to be an Israeli or a Jew, and these kids are being fed a daily diet of lies and antisemitism, how will we have any hope for the future?” Flatow asked.
“I wished Kushner and Greenblatt a lot of luck when they left this week,” Flatow said. “I don’t know what their mood will be when they get back from Jerusalem, but I’m pretty sure they will be no farther along than they were before they got there.”
Roth said he was not surprised by the reports of Abbas’ reaction to Kushner over the payments.
“They ring true to me,” he said. “On the other hand, what makes no sense to me is how the West — the US, the EU and Israel — has backed off for decades whenever the Palestinian Arabs say, as they do now, that the payments are a red line, that they amount to a ‘social responsibility,’ that they are a holy part of Arab society’s social contract.”
Roth recounted that he had begun investigating the issue of the payments shortly after his daughter’s murder. At the time, “the focus of critics was less on those doing the spending — the Yasser Arafat PA — and more on those doing the funding, which has always been principally the US and the Europeans,” he said.
Roth recalled a meeting in 2002 with a senior European Union official responsible for the transfer of EU money to the PA. “I armed myself with facts on the free flow of European foreign aid that was lubricating Arafat’s terror apparatus,” he said. “I asked some sharp questions, and when the answer I got turned out to be a complete fabrication, I understood how much paying the Palestinian Arabs to keep their ‘martyrdom’ payments going was perceived as unchangeable by both the European side and by the Arabs.”
“I have never gotten over the bitterness this made me feel,” Roth reflected.
Both Roth and Flatow urged the White House to put pressure on the PA and its allies in the Arab world to declare an end to their historical enmity with Israel.
Flatow argued that Arab states had to set an example to the Palestinians. “Would it kill Saudi Arabia to sign a peace treaty with Israel, and finally end the 1948 war?” he asked.
Roth said that while he didn’t believe the PA would collapse because of pressure on its bureaucracy over the terror payments, that outcome would still be preferable to one where “we accept some ongoing level of deaths-by-murder among Israeli families, so that the PA can preserve what they regard as cultural imperatives.”
Kushner and Greenblatt “must impress on the PA side that overcoming their addiction to terror is an essential prerequisite, and perhaps the only one, to sitting down to horse trade,” Roth concluded. “After that, everything is possible.”