New York Contrary to the promise by Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas that funds released by Israel would be used for humanitarian purposes and funding his own Fatah forces, it has been revealed that instead, it has gone to fund Hamas own armed forces. The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has praised Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for halting further transfers of such funds to the PA following these revelations.
According to reports from Reuters and by Palestinian affairs journalist Khaled Abu Toameh, Hamas officials declared on Monday that some of the $100 million in tax revenues released by Israel to the PA in January went to thousands of Hamas supporters, including members of its armed forces. According to the PA Finance Minister, Hamas Samir Abu Aisheh, of the more than 9,500 new employees added to the public sector since Hamas took power in March 2006 after winning Palestinian legislative elections, 5,500 are Hamas-appointed security officers.
Asked if PA president Mahmoud Abbas office had transferred some of the funds to the Hamas-led government, Abu Aisheh said that money was paid directly to the PA civil servants, including tens of thousands of PA security officers, through the office of Abbas, with whom Israel continues to deal and to which it transfers the tax revenues. “The Presidents Office is actually functioning as the Palestinian Finance Ministry” (Jerusalem Post, March 13; Haaretz , March 13).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The ZOA has repeatedly warned about the dangers of Israel transferring revenues to the Hamas/PA, because such revenues either end up reaching terrorists or else, being fungible, free up other funds for terrorists. We have never accepted the fiction that Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah are significantly different from Hamas — both have murdered about 500 Jews each and maimed thousands more in the last six years of their terrorist war against Israel and both have charters calling for Israels destruction and the use of terrorism against Israelis. We warned against giving these revenues to the PA in February 2006 , when the Olmert government transferred $53 million to Abbas, arguing that withholding funds offered Israel an opportunity to pressure the PA to fulfill its 13-year old commitments to arrest and jail terrorists, close the weapons factories and end the incitement to hatred and murder in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps that feeds terrorism. Regrettably, the Olmert government continued to fund the PA, which remains as extreme as ever.
“We strongly support Prime Minister Olmert decision last week to withhold further funds from the PA and we urge him forcefully to adhere to that decision until and unless the PA fulfills its signed commitments under the Oslo agreements and also the 2003 Roadmap peace plan. Until that time, giving money to the PA is simply tantamount to paying Palestinian Arab terrorists to murder Jews.”
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The Zionist Organization of America, founded in 1897, is the oldest pro-Israel organization in the United States. The ZOA works to strengthen U.S.-Israel relations, educates the American public and Congress about the dangers that Israel faces, and combats anti-Israel bias in the media and on college campuses. Its past presidents have included Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis and Rabbi Dr. Abba Hillel Silver.