A growing number of lawmakers in the United States, Great Britain, and the European Union are openly suggesting the billions of dollars, pounds, and euros that they and others have collectively bestowed upon the Palestinian Authority to promote peace and reconciliation with Israel have done the exact opposite.
The evidence is now too great to ignore, a growing number of lawmakers say. Key legislators say abundant funding has only been financing the flames of confrontation, intransigence, and openly advertised institutional terrorism. The United States alone contributes between $400 million and $500 million annually to the PA.
For many, as Al-Monitor reported in a headline, reunion with Hamas seems to be “the last straw.” Reunification will create what one lawmaker called “the single best financed terror structure in the world.”
The concerns are manifold. Hamas and its Gazan partners wage daily rocket war against Israel. Gaza can become a direct pipeline to Iranian, Syrian, and Hizbullah weaponry, creating a formidable terror nexus just a 20-minute drive from Tel Aviv. But the threat goes beyond just Israel.
Last month, a Cairo court officially declared Hamas a terrorist organization, banning all its activities in Egypt. Cairo’s military has nearly sealed the Gaza border, has flooded its tunnels with sewage, and is now fencing off El Arish and the Sinai.
In Latin America, Hamas has been engaged in rampant narcoterrorism in a tri-border region centered near Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil. Hundreds of operatives from Hamas as well as Hizbullah, operating with millions of money-laundered dollars, have created a lawless domain that funnels money back to the Middle East, according to a 2010 report by the Crime and Narcotics Center of the Central Intelligence Agency. Moreover, the report cites information that “Hamas and other terrorist organizations use this region to plan their actions, to obtain supplies, and to live for a certain period of time before launching new attacks in other countries.”
Most of all, the new Hamas-PA entity could outshine al Qaeda. Whereas al Qaeda must walk in the shadows and dwell in caves, the reconstituted well-armed, well-financed Hamas-PA entity would walk the gilded corridors of government in seeming diplomatic trappings while continuing to threaten and implement terrorism, all with impunity and endless international taxpayer financing.
Elected officials here and abroad are warning the Palestinians that the gravy train may quickly dry up.
First, lawmakers had to confront recent revelations that the Palestinian Authority was paying generous salaries to convicted terrorists in Israeli prisons. A sliding scale was openly set forth in the Palestinian Law of the Prisoner, with more money and benefits going to those killing the most people. A well-endowed Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners ensures efficient payment of the monthly stipends.
Far from denying it, Palestinian officials regularly boast of the program. “These people are heroes and freedom fighters,” a Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners spokesman confirmed to skeptical Telegraph reporter Jake Wallis-Simons in London.
The monthly terrorist salaries total about $3 million to $7 million per month and consume approximately 6 percent of the PA budget, with similar terrorism compensation programs pushing the grand total to about 16 percent of the PA’s overall estimated $3.5 billion annual budget. With a continuous 28 to 33 percent deficit, the PA monthly payments are in essence funded by taxpayers in America, Europe, and elsewhere, who make up the difference.
The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade, led by Congressman Ted Poe (R-Texas), conducted a formal hearing on the matter in March. Rep. Poe later penned an article for The Jerusalem Post titled “Crime Pays – for Palestinian Terrorists” detailing the discovery. In London, The Telegraph reported, “Sir Gerald Howarth, a Conservative MP, has called for Britain to suspend all aid to the Palestinian Authority until payments to terrorists cease.” In Brussels, several members of the European Parliament, demanded that such funding be stopped.