Arab communities worry over lack of personal safety and trust that police will take action.01:20 02.05.16 | 1 comments
Two weeks ago, a Palestinian from Bethlehem was arrested by the US-financed and trained Palestinian Authority security forces. He was charged with "carrying out commercial transactions with residents of a hostile state." No, he was not buying uranium from Iran. His purported crime was purchasing wood products from an Israeli community located beyond the 1949 armistice lines. Denied bail by the US-funded PA magistrate's court in Bethlehem, he has been remanded to custody pending the conclusion of his trial. This man's arrest is part of what the unelected, US-supported Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has touted as his "National Honor Fund." The goal of this project is to ban all economic contact between Palestinians and Jews who live and work beyond the 1949 armistice lines. As far as the supposedly moderate Fayyad is concerned, those Jews and Israel generally comprise the "hostile state," that the Palestinians under Fayyad's leadership are being compelled to boycott. Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Palestinian Labor Minister Ahmed Majdalani said the PA hopes that by the end of the year all the thousands of Palestinians who are employed in Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria will quit their jobs. What he didn't mention is that if they don't quit, they will be arrested. According to PA Economics Minister Hassan Abu Libdeh, since the start of Fayyad's campaign, the PA has confiscated $1 million worth of Israeli products including foods, cosmetics and hardware from Palestinian stores. Fayyad's measures come on top of previously enacted PA measures like imposing the death penalty on Palestinians who sell land to Jews. Less than two months ago, the PA reaffirmed that it will continue to execute any Palestinian who commits this "crime." There is no way to credibly claim that these actions advance either the cause of peaceful coexistence or Palestinian economic prosperity. Yet it is precisely in the hope of advancing these goals that the US government funds the PA. PROVIDING DIRECT budgetary assistance to Fayyad isn't the only way the US finances Hamas. It also contributes to Hamas by funding UNRWA. US assistance to UNRWA has doubled in the last four years, largely as a way of avoiding providing direct aid to Hamas. Yet the CRS report notes, "In Gaza, most observers acknowledge that the role of UNRWA in providing basic services (i.e., food, health care, education) takes much of the governing burden off Hamas." In defending its assistance to UNRWA, the State Department told Congress that the aid "directly contributes to the US strategic interest of meeting the humanitarian needs of the Palestinians, while promoting their self-sufficiency. UNRWA plays a stabilizing role in the Middle East through its assistance programs, serving as an important counterweight to extremists." But the fact of the matter is that UNRWA employees are Hamas members and sympathizers. And despite the State Department's claim that it has adopted safeguards to ensure that US assistance is not transferred to individuals and groups with links to Hamas and other terror groups, UNRWA's checks against terrorism are restricted to checking a UN list of banned terror groups that includes only al-Qaida and the Taliban. As the CRS report noted, UNRWA's terror screening list "does not include Hamas, Hizbullah or most other militant groups that operate in UNRWA's surroundings." In other words, UNRWA continues to employ terrorists, and its current procedures do nothing to prevent that. A Framework of Cooperation agreement signed this year between UNRWA and the US sets out 15 steps for UNRWA to expand its terror screening. But the agreement is nonbinding. Moreover, its provisions in no way block terror-linked individuals or groups from receiving aid from UNRWA. In truth, given the PA's refusal to recognize Israel's right to exist or take sustained, decisive action against terrorism, there is really no way for the US to continue funding it without breaking its own laws. But acknowledging this state of affairs would involve admitting that the peace process is a lie and that any Palestinian state that is formed today will be a terrorist state at war with Israel. The incoming Congress might want to consider these basic truths before it approves further aid to Fayyad and his moderate government.