New York – The ZOA opposes the decision of the government of Ehud Olmert to transfer funds totaling $53.2 million (NIS 240 million) to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the wake of Hamas victory in last months Palestinian Authority (PA) elections. The Israeli Cabinet on Sunday agreed to transfer the sum to the PA after delaying the payment last week. The ZOA believes that this action forfeits an excellent opportunity for Israel to pressure the PA to live up to its long-standing obligations under signed agreements and the 2003 Roadmap peace plan to fight terrorism and end the incitement to hatred and murder that feeds it. Hamas is a terrorist organization whose Charter calls for the destruction of Israel (Article 15) and the murder of Jews (Article 7). Since the elections, Hamas leadership has restated that it will not recognize Israels legitimacy:
- Moussa Abu Marzouk: We believe that there was a mistake that happened in the past and this (recognition of Israel) in particular must be corrected (Reuters, February 5).
- Mahmoud al-Zahar: The Western nations can take their aid and get lost … Israel is not a legitimate entity, and no amount of pressure can force us to recognize its right to exist (Washington Times, February 4).
- Khaled Meshal: We will not recognize the Israeli occupation but we are realistic and we know things are done gradually
Being against occupation does not mean I can cancel Israel in moments (Haaretz , January 28). “The west will be defeated in Palestine, your defeat there has already begun
when Israel is defeated, its path is defeated and so will whoever supported or supports it
Before Israel dies, it must be humiliated and degraded
- We will make Israel lose their eyesight and their brains All Arab leaders want Palestine to be liberated Hamas has a plan recognizing Israel is not one of them nor is giving up the weapons of the resistance We will restore Jerusalem bring back 5.5 Palestinian refugees to their homeland.” (Al Jazeera TV 2/03/06 [courtesy of MEMRI]
The customs and tax revenue being handed over by Israel would go directly to the PA. The practice of Israel transferring customs and tax revenues to the PA stems from the 1995 Israel-PA interim agreement (Oslo II) whereby Israel agreed to monthly transfers to the PA of funds it collects at the ports and crossing points on behalf of the PA. Israel held up transferring the funds following Hamas victory in the Palestinian Legislative Council elections on January 25, saying that it wanted to wait and see whether Hamas would be in the new PA government before going through with the transfer. Hamas does not recognize any agreements signed by the PA with Israel, including the interim agreements. Israels position had been that it will not cooperate with the PA if Hamas is a member of the government and does not disavow terror-ism, recognize Israel and accept all previous agreements with it (Jerusalem Post, February 5).
Israeli responses to the Olmert government decision to transfer funds to the PA:
- Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu: We are trying to create international pressure against Hamas – so every shekel we give to a Hamas-led government is unexplainable.
- Knesset Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee head Yuval Steinitz (Likud): Olmerts policy is, Give them money, so they dont go broke in a few months. Give them time, so they can get set up and organized, and in the end: Give them a unilateral withdrawal, so they can set up an army in Judea and Samaria, as theyve done in Gaza. And all this to give Olmert a chance to get elected.
- Member of Knesset Gideon Saar (Likud): Olmert, who allowed Hamas to rise to power, now gives it international legitimacy; Olmerts excuses for transferring money to the Hamas are ridiculous and resemble the policies of an ostrich.