U.S. Aid Despite Continuing Rocket Attacks
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has described the decision of the Obama Administration to give $900 million or more in U.S. taxpayer-funded aid to Hamas-controlled Gaza and Mahmoud Abbas Palestinian Authority (PA) a mistake that will enhance the ability of Hamas to wage its terror war and thus prolong the conflict and increase its toll in lives. Such funds are fungible and also free up other Hamas funds for terror purposes. The U.S. made this pledge ahead of Secretary of State Hillary Clintons journey to Sharm el Sheikh where an international conference of Gaza reconstruction is under way. (US to pledge over $900m for Gaza aid, Jerusalem Post, February 24, 2009).
Secretary Clinton confirmed the pledge of $900 million today. While she gave no breakdown of the pledged funds, her spokesman said yesterday that they included $300 million in humanitarian aid for Gaza and about $600 million in budget and development aid to Mahmoud Abbas Fateh-controlled Palestinian Authority (PA). Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu has warned foreign leaders not to invest in Gaza while Hamas still attacks Israeli targets with rockets and places bombs along the separation barrierm however. Secretary Clinton maintained that the aid will flow on the condition that none of it would reach Hamas despite a long history of Hamas putting its hands on foreign money, weapons and United Nations humanitarian aid. (Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu, US Vows $900 Million for PA, Gaza; Hamas Pockets Recent Funds, Israel National News, March 2, 2009).
Secretary Clinton said that measures would be taken to ensure nothing flowed to Hamas, but Israeli reports indicated that a previous transfer of $21.5 million from Mahmoud Abbas PA to Gaza, approved by Israel on the understanding that the payment was solely for PA officials salaries, went directly to Hamas. Despite protestations from PA prime minister Salaam Fayyad that the money was for salaries, much of it had gone to rebuilding structures used by Hamas in attacking Israel and opposing Israels subsequent operations against Hamas in Gaza.
Despite Secretary Clintons words of reassurance, she is not addressing the fact that the PA is bound by the 2007 Mecca Agreement between Fateh and Hamas to fund Hamas, including its growing army, which is outlawed by the United States. Also, the PA itself finances terror: the PA Interior Ministry pays monthly salaries to Fatehs own Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, two recognized terrorists groups. Furthermore, the PA also pays the monthly salaries of between 6,000 and 12,000 Hamas Executive Force operatives in Gaza, in accordance with the 2007 Mecca Agreement. (Dan Diker and Khaled Abu Toameh, Can the Palestinian Authoritys Fatah Forces Retake Gaza? Obstacles and Opportunities, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Jerusalem Viewpoints No. 569, January-February 2009).
It has been argued that, as U.S. funds are not going directly to Hamas, but are to be channeled through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) that this funding is not problematic, yet as Jerusalem Post Deputy Managing Editor Caroline Glick has observed, UNRWA openly collaborates with Hamas. Its workers double as Hamas combatants. Its refugee camps and schools are used as Hamas training bases and missile launch sites. Its mosques are used as recruiting grounds. And as UNRWAs willingness to transfer a letter from Hamas to US Sen. John Kerry during his visit to Gaza last week demonstrated, the UN agency is also willing to act as Hamass surrogate. (Caroline Glick, Entrapping Netanyahu, Jerusalem Post, February 26, 2009).
Other aid approved for the PA or used by the PA has gone to bolster terror groups. Two recent examples:
· Earlier this year, UNRWA admitted that Hamas had commandeered convoys of aid destined for its warehouses. Weapons that the United States and other countries have supplied the past several years to Fateh leader and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas also have found their way into Hamas hands and have been used in terrorist attacks against Israelis.
· A 2008 World Bank report concluded that billions of dollars in foreign aid has enabled the PA to inflate its public payroll while its education system continues to incite violence against Israel. (Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu, World Bank: Palestinian Authority Becoming Welfare State, Israel National News, September 17, 2009).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, The ZOA strongly opposes the provision of this aid to the PA as certain only to enhance the ability of terrorist groups, including Hamas, to wage their terror war against Israel and thus prolong the conflict that the Obama Administration says it is keen to solve.
First, it is wrong both in principle and practice to disburse American funds for Gaza while attacks upon Israel from Gaza are still in progress: rockets are striking towns and farms in southern Israel virtually every day. Gilad Shalit, kidnapped by Hamas, is still a captive. These things must end before the flow of any aid begins.
Second, even if the aid itself could be shown not to be reaching terror groups, such aid is fungible. Such aid also frees up other funds for terror Hamas might be otherwise compelled to spend on the Gazan population.
Third, Hamas is a Nazi-like regime in principle and aims not only does its Charter calls for the destruction of Israel (Article 15) but it also calls for the murder of Jews (Article 7). Would we ever agree to fund a genocidal regime? If not, why do we permit aid for Gaza, which will demonstrably end up in the hands of Hamas which after all controls Gaza?
Fourth, while a brutal tyranny, Hamas does not exist in a vacuum separated from Gazans. Palestinians voted it into office in the 2006 legislative elections and a disproportionate amount of that Palestinian support for Hamas came from Gaza, which it has run since 2007. Gazan Palestinians were not unaware of Hamas platform, aims or conduct, including its record of suicide terrorism that has claimed over 500 Israeli lives in the past eight years. It is wrong to assume that Gazans oppose Hamas or, because they lack the power to change the regime, that they are necessarily unhappy with or disagree with its aims. The evidence strongly suggests otherwise. In such circumstances, America is not obliged to give aid and, furthermore, is violating its own commitment not fund terror groups or to facilitate their attacks in any way.
Fifth, experience has clearly shown that funding Palestinians through Fateh and the PA is not an effective alternative to directly funding terror groups. The PA itself funds terrorism and incitement to hatred and murder. Such aid as we give it now will only end up going to pay the salaries of Hamas employees and assist its apparatus of terror.
We are deeply critical of this decision and urge the Obama Administration to rescind it.