The economy presided over by the Palestinian Authority and its head Mahmoud Abbas is a peculiar thing.
A year ago, the New York Times reported that the PA had managed to run up a deficit of more than half a billion US dollars in 2011 alone, and was borrowing heavily from unspecified banks. The financial crisis, according to PA prime minister and famed economist Salam Fayyad, was due to the failure of the PA’s sovereign friends to make good on their pledges. “Of the $971 million pledged by donors for this year, $330 million of it has been paid so far,” said the July 2011 report, quickly adding that “Fayyad said the current financial crisis had no bearing on the Palestinians’ readiness for independence.”
Ready for independence or not, the PA has now managed to run up an electricity tab of more than NIS 700 million. That’s how much they owed the Israel Electric Company as of September 1, 2012. Israel’s minister for energy Uzi Landau said yesterday that he will be instructing the IEC “to take all necessary steps to collect these debts, with all the implications that may arise.” Does he mean to turn off the power to the Abbas regime? Maybe.
The Times of Israel noted that:
“The accumulated electricity debt is another sign of the Palestinian Authority’s mounting cash crunch, which it largely blames on a sharp reduction in foreign aid since 2011.”
In tough economic times, you make tough economic decisions. Unless you’re the Palestinian Authority. Contemplate yesterday‘s report from Israel’s Channel 2, that the Palestinian Authority is spending $4.5 million a month paying salaries to Palestinians in Israeli jails and to their families.
According to the report, the amount the Palestinians receives depends on how long he is sentenced to (or in other words, how severe the crimes of the terrorist were). Pursuant to a 2003 Palestinian Authority law, getting sentenced up to five years in prison earns NIS 1,000 ($250) per month. A life sentence earns NIS 4,000 ($1,000). That amount increased further in 2011, under Fayyad’s stewardship, by an average of 300%.
And these terror-salaries and family benefits are not restricted to the members of the so-called “moderate” Palestinian factions like Fatah. They include Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
The report goes on to say that murderers get paid even more, the longer their incarceration. To illustrate, the Channel 2 report brings the case of the multiple murderer Abdullah Barghouti, sentenced in 2004 to 67 life sentences – one for each of the lives he snuffed out. He’s also the man who built the bomb that murdered Malki Roth (the daughter of the authors of this article). As a convicted murderer on behalf of the Palestinian Arabs, he qualifies for a monthly stipend of NIS 4,000 ($1,000). This will rise automatically next year to NIS 6,000.
According to the U.S. Institute of Peace as well as the Congressional Research Service, Palestinians in Judea and Samaria (“West Bank”) and the Gaza Strip, are “the largest per capita recipients of international development assistance in the world.”
Who makes available the funding that allows the PA to conduct its unconscionable, terror-encouraging financial policies? Well, quite a number of people, if you’re asking. And some that may be quite close to where you live.
In an article for Algeminier, Arsen Ostrovsky, a fellow at the American Center for Democracy, wrote that:
In the last five years, the U.S. government has poured at least $4 billion in aid to the Palestinians, with very little to show in return – except more terror and corruption.Since 2008, annual U.S. bilateral assistance to the PA has averaged over $600 million, including $513 million for the current budgetary year.Time has now long come to ask whether the U.S. should continue funding at all.
Ostrovsky notes that when this past April, Congresswomen Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fl), as chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee put a hold on $59 million destined to the Palestinian Authority, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released them anyway on the grounds that the funds ” provided critical support to the Palestinian people and those leaders seeking to combat extremism within their society and build a more stable future.”
Another source of funding are international donor conferences, where multiple states pledge money to the Palestinian Authority. At the 2007 Paris Donor Conference, for example, where 7.7 billion was pledged to the Palestinian Authority, 11% of the pledges came from the US and Canada, 53% from Europe. A mere 20% from the Arab countries – much of which was never delivered. [See the World Bank report, "Implementing the Palestinian Reform and Development Agenda."]
Last year, we complained bitterly about the powerful symbolism at work in this shabby affair:
The PA is chronically short of funds, and is perpetually requesting handouts. Yet it has sufficient disposable cash to make the decision this week to channel funds to the terrorists sitting in Israeli prisons. Evidently Mahmoud Abbas and his cohorts have a sound understanding of the message they want to convey to their people, and how best to deliver it. It’s humiliating that we, victims of these convicted jihadist terrorists, parents of murdered children, have to raise our voices about this – and evidently we are alone in doing so. Where are the European, American and Australian voices of outrage at what is being done with taxpayer funded aid money, and in their names?
Allow us to ask again, as we did in May 2011: Where is the sense of shame on the part of those who sign the aid cheques to the Palestinian Arabs? Where is the fury of those voters in Western, aid-giving countries whose political representatives allow this to go on without so much as a whimper?
[Note this article has been edited from the original, which can be found at Frimet and Arnold Roth's blog, This Ongoing War. JewishPress.com Opinion Editor Daniel Tauber contributed to this version of the report].
About the Author: Frimet and Arnold Roth began writing and speaking publicly soon after the murder of their fifteen year-old daughter Malki Z"L in the Jerusalem Sbarro massacre, August 9, 2001 (Chaf Av, 5761). They have both been, and are, frequently interviewed for radio, television and the print media, including CNN, BBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Al-Jazeera, and others. Their blog This Ongoing War deals with the under-appreciated price of living in a society afflicted by terrorism which, they contend, means the entire world. Frimet is a native of Queens, NY while her husband was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia. They brought their family to settle in Jerusalem in 1988. They co-founded the Malki Foundation in 2001 and are deeply involved in its work as volunteers. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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