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September 13, 2017 12:23 pm

Will the Palestinians Put Their Money Where Their Mouth Is?

avatar by Yale Zussman

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PA President Mahmoud Abbas addressing the UN. Photo: UN.

In the coming months, Congress is expected to vote on the Taylor Force Act, which would prohibit US funding of the Palestinian Authority (PA) if it continues to pay benefits to terrorists and/or their families. Mahmoud Abbas claims that these payments are a sacred obligation of the PA, and that he will never halt them.

Irresistible force, meet immovable object.

If either the US or Israel is prepared to put the PA to the test, this clash will offer the clearest demonstration of whether the Palestinians have any intention of ever reaching a peace agreement with Israel.

The US or Israel should challenge Abbas, possibly during the upcoming session of the UN General Assembly, to announce that he will no longer offer payments to those who engage in violence against Israelis; payments for past acts of terror could be continued.

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Why should the PA be allowed to continuing paying terrorists and their families for past acts of violence? Because a case can be made that, having encouraged violence, the PA is responsible for taking care of the widows and orphans of those killed while engaging in terror. Put simply, they were killed doing what their leaders asked them to do. A similar case can be made for paying terrorists already in Israeli jails.

But this argument doesn’t apply to prospective terrorists and their future acts. For those who have yet to engage in violence, the payments can only be regarded as an incentive — a message from the PA that a man or woman can improve their family’s economic status by getting killed while engaging in terror. They’d simply be making a rational calculation. Abbas could prevent future terror by changing the economic incentives. The payments should end on the day of Abbas’ announcement, in order to prevent a flurry of violence.

If Abbas is serious about seeking a peaceful solution to the Palestinian conflict with Israel, he could signal that to the world by making this announcement. If he fails to do so, that would also be a signal — that he is not a partner for peace, and that all “peace” negotiations with the Palestinians should cease.

If Abbas fails to stop the terror payments, he would also prove that “Palestine” would not be a “peace-loving” nation, which should mean that “Palestine” doesn’t qualify for membership in the United Nations. What the UN does in response would demonstrate whether it is truly an agency for peace — or part of the problem.

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