A VISUAL GUIDE
The Palestinian Authority controls Area A (18%) of the West Bank, Area B (21%) is under joint Israeli-PA control, and Area C (60%) is under full Israeli control. These were the terms that were agreed upon by both parties at the Oslo Accords (1993-1995). The Oslo Accords were supposed to provide a pathway to Palestinian statehood; however, the Accords collapsed and this has been the status quo ever since.
About 87% of the Palestinian population of the West Bank lives in Areas A and B (under PA or joint PA-Israeli control)
WHO IS THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY?
The Palestinian National Authority, also known as the Palestinian Authority or the State of Palestine, is the internationally-recognized governmental body of the Palestinian people. As explained in the prior slide, the Palestinian Authority exercises full or partial civil control over Areas A and B of the West Bank.
The PA was established as a consequence of the 1993-1995 Oslo Accords. The PA is under the control of Fatah, the largest fraction of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Following the death of longtime PLO leader Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas became president of the Palestinian Authority in 2005. He is currently serving his eighteenth year of his four-year term.
WHO IS THE PLO?
The Palestine Liberation Organization is a Palestinian nationalist and militant organization established in 1964 (three years prior to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank or the Gaza Strip) with the stated purpose of creating “Arab unity” and statehood over the entirety of the territory that once constituted the British Mandate over Palestine, including sovereign and internationally-recognized Israeli territory. Yasser Arafat served as chairman from 1969 until his death in 2005.
Up until 1993, the PLO confronted Israel only through armed struggle. Its first terrorist activity was the attempted destruction of Israel’s National Water Carrier in 1965. Since then, the PLO and its offshoots have carried out a number of terrorist attacks and plane hijackings targeting Israeli civilians, including children, such as the Ma’alot Massacre (1974) and the Avivim School Bus Bombing (1970). During the Oslo Accords, the PLO officially renounced terrorism and claim over the entirety of Mandatory Palestine, instead revising their demands to that of the 1967 borders. Despite formally renouncing terrorism, the PLO and its offshoots have carried out at least 33 suicide bombings targeting Israeli civilians since Oslo, and to this day, the PA pays lifelong stipends to Palestinians and Israeli Arabs (or their families) convicted of terrorism against Israelis, including Israeli civilians.
WHO IS HAMAS?
Hamas is the Sunni-Islamist fundamentalist organization that governs the Gaza Strip. Hamas has a social service wing and a military wing. Numerous countries across the world consider Hamas and/or its military wing a terrorist organization. Hamas was founded in 1987 as an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood is also considered a terrorist organization in various nations, including nations in the Middle East.
The 1988 Hamas Charter is openly antisemitic, so much so that the Anti-Defamation League describes it as reading like “a modern-day Mein Kampf.” Article 22, for example, blames Jews for just about every calamity in history dating back to the French Revolution. Article 7 calls for the complete annihilation of the Jewish People. Article 32 references The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a virulently antisemitic text that influenced Hitler. Hamas openly denies the Holocaust.
Hamas has taken responsibility for thousands war crimes and crimes against humanity, targeting both Israelis and Palestinians, including suicide bombings, indiscriminate missiles fired at civilians, kidnappings, torture, and more.
Though Hamas depicts itself to the west as a grassroots resistance group fighting the Israeli occupation, in 2018 Forbes magazine reported that Hamas is the third richest terrorist organization in the world, with an annual income of about $700 million. Yet, the Gazan population suffers the highest unemployment rate in the world. Qatar is Hamas’ most significant financial sponsor. Hamas also functions as a proxy to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Over the past several years, the international community has donated billions of dollars in humanitarian aid. Hamas operatives have been caught diverting funds a number of times. The civilian population of Gaza barely sees a cent.
Many Hamas leaders live in mansions in Qatar.
In 1964, Fatah established a fund known as the Palestine Mujahidin and Martyrs Fund to support the widows and children of Palestinian fedayeen, or militants/terrorists who carried out attacks against the Israeli military and civilians. In the 1950s, Egypt, Syria, and Jordan all sponsored fedayeen attacks against Israel. In 1971, the fund was replaced by the Society for the Care of Palestinian Martyrs and Prisoners and expanded to include fedayeen who had died of natural causes during their service.
Fedayeen not associated with the PLO received a one-time payment, while those associated with the PLO received monthly stipends. This incentivized the families of non-PLO fighters to register their relatives with the PLO posthumously.
The stipends to terrorists and their families, now known pejoratively as “Pay for Slay,” were routinized during the Second Intifada (2000-2005), a Palestinian uprising in which Palestinian terrorists carried out more than 140 suicide bombings, around 80 percent of them exclusively targeting Israeli civilians. Some of the suicide bombers were children.
It’s important to understand that the stipends are significantly higher than the average Palestinian wages. This financial compensation incentivizes Palestinians — including children — to engage in terrorist acts.
Not to be outdone, Hamas has its own version of the Martyrs Fund since their takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007.
SPECIFICALLY TARGETING JEWS
The Palestinian Authority provides financial compensation for Israeli Arabs (i.e. Palestinians with Israeli citizenship) who are convicted for terrorism against Jewish Israelis.
(MIS)USE OF FOREIGN AID
The Palestinian Authority received about $1.8 billion and $1.4 billion in foreign aid in 2008 and 2009, respectively. According to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, in 2017, out of the $693 million that the Palestinian Authority received in foreign aid, $345 million was allocated to the Pay for Slay program.
The Washington Post disputed that figure, claiming that $183 million was allocated to the families of “martyrs,” $160 million was allocated to “prisoner payments,” and $1 million was distributed to the families of suicide bombers. Nearly 10% of the Palestinian Authority’s budget is allocated to the Pay for Slay program.
In 2015, the World Bank argued that the Pay for Slay program constituted a misallocation of funds: “The program is clearly not targeted to the poorest households. While some assistance should be directed to this population, the level of resources devoted to the Fund for Martyrs and the Injured does not seem justified from welfare or fiscal perspective.”
Some United States-based charities, such as the Holy Land Foundation, have been accused of directly funding the Pay for Slay program.
Numerous countries, including the United States, the Netherlands, Australia, Norway, and Germany, have cut direct payments to the Palestinian Authority after discovering that those funds were being redistributed to the Pay for Slay program.
TAYLOR FORCE ACT
In 2016, an American military veteran named Taylor Force, who had no relation to the conflict, was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist. He was visiting Israel as a part of a Vanderbilt University study group on global entrepreneurship.
The killer died during the attack. As such, the Palestinian Authority pays the terrorist’s family a monthly stipend that is significantly higher than the average Palestinian wage.
In 2018, the United States government passed a bill halting aid to the Palestinian Authority so long as the PA continues its Pay for Slay program. Sponsored by Republicans, many Democrats were initially reluctant to get on board; however, by 2017, more supported the act.
That said, the United States continues funding the Palestinian Authority in indirect ways, through other agencies.
Many countries and international non-governmental organizations have challenged the Palestinian Authority’s Pay for Slay program on moral and economic grounds; however, according to Ziad Asali, the founding president of the American Task Force on Palestine, the payments are so popular that no Palestinian politician dares challenge them. The program has been described as “part of the ethos of Palestinian society.”
Scholar of Middle Eastern law and politics at George Washington University Nathan Brown states that the stipends are “universally supported among Palestinians.”
By contrast, a 2017 Washington Institute for Near East Policy poll found that two-thirds of Palestinians disagreed with the Pay for Slay policy and thought that Palestinians convicted of terrorism and their families shouldn’t receive extra payments and instead should receive the same social services as everyone else.
In 2017, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas claimed that efforts to stop the payments were “an aggression against the Palestinian people.”
The Palestinian Prisoners' Club justifies the payments because “the family did nothing against anyone.”
The United Nations Charter, established in 1945, is considered the basis of international law. I encourage you to read it for yourself in its entirety at www.un.org/en/about-us/un-charter
In 1998, the United Nations made its stance on war crimes crystal-clear when it drafted the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court: ”Intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities; Intentionally directing attacks against civilian objects, that is, objects which are not military objectives; Intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals and places where the sick and wounded are collected, provided they are not military objectives; Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into the national armed forces or using them to participate actively in hostilities; Taking of hostages…”
Resolution 49/60, adopted in 1994 describes terrorism as the following: “Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them.” To reiterate: terrorism is “in any circumstance unjustifiable.”
Resolution 1566, adopted in 2004, describes terrorism as the following: “Criminal acts, including against civilians, committed with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury, or taking of hostages, with the purpose to provoke a state of terror in the general public or in a group of persons or particular persons, intimidate a population or compel a government or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act.”
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