New York – The ZOA has applauded the recent official British statement on the correctness of Israeli counter-terrorism measures and the possibility of serious consequences for the Palestinian Authority (PA) if it fails to act to end terrorism and urged the Bush Administration to do the same. The British Minister of State for the Middle East, Kim Howells, in an interview while on a three-day visit to the region, said Israels recent counter-terrorist operations were proportionate and hinted that the PA might be denied further financial aid if it did not take serious steps to eliminate terrorism (Jerusalem Post, September 30). Excerpts from Mr. Howells statement:
- I thought the retaliation this week was proportionate … The [Palestinian] attack was a very serious one, it could have killed a lot of people. Its a miracle really there werent more casualties …
- … it seems to me that the Israelis have targeted with great care those it believes responsible for firing those rockets … If this care continues … the world will understand [Israelis] are trying to defend their citizens, which after all is the primary responsibility of any government.
- The Palestinians are receiving more aid per capita than any other people on the face of the earth, and we want to see some proper response.
- Sooner or later [the Palestinians] have to make a tough decision and start disarming the armed factions within Gaza and the West Bank. If they dont, how can the rest of the world have any confidence in their ability to bring good governance to these areas? We are waiting with bated breath for a response from the PA and it has to be a signal that it is capable of good governance. This is not a bottomless pit that this money is coming from.
- I think there is no excuse now … Gaza is now in the hands of the Palestinian Authority, and there are no Israeli troops there. One hopes that where tough decisions have to be made, Abu Mazen [PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas] and the PA will make them.
- Look, they have 60,000 troops in the PA, they have all the equipment they need. What they need is the political will to do it.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, The ZOA commends the British Minister of State for the Middle East, Kim Howells, for his understanding and refreshingly direct remarks on the situation in Israel. It has been, unfortunately, the rule that European governments ignore or rationalize Palestinian terrorism while reacting to Israeli counter-terrorism with condemnation and a complete lack of understanding of the environment of hatred and mass murder in which Israel must operate.
Instead, Mr. Howells has told it as it is and urged the PA to fulfill its signed obligations to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism. He has also indicated that financial aid cannot be limitless and especially that it cannot keep flowing without the PA meeting its obligations, for which, as he rightly notes, it has all the necessary firepower and personnel.
We were pleased that a senior Bush Administration official said on Thursday that a prerequisite for restarting the Roadmap is for the PA to immediately exert control over Gaza. We urge the United States to seriously consider adopting Howells principle of strongly supporting Israeli counter-measures while making it clear that there will be severe consequences of the elimination of aid to the PA unless terror and incitement end.