The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has criticized President Barack Obama for signing a waiver last week permitting the transfer of U.S. funds to the Mahmoud Abbas Palestinian Authority (PA), while relaxing a requirement contained in the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006, that U.S. policy promote the cessation of terrorism and incitement in institutions and territories controlled by the Palestinian Authority. The ZOA has repeatedly demanded of successive U.S. administrations that U.S. aid to the PA be cut off in pursuit of precisely such a policy.
The Act requires the Secretary of State to ensure such assistance is not provided to or through an individual or entity with terrorist ties and prohibits the use of such funds to recognize or honor individuals or the families of individuals who commit terrorism. It also restricts the U.S. from sending foreign aid to Hamas-controlled areas of the Palestinian Authority. The Act also requires that the proposed recipient is not a member of, or controlled by, Hamas or any other foreign terrorist organization.
The Act also requires the President to certify that no PA ministry, agency, or instrumentality that receives U.S. funding is controlled by Hamas, unless the Hamas-controlled PA has publicly acknowledged the Jewish state of Israels right to exist and is adhering to all previous agreements and understandings with the United States, Israel and the international community, including agreements and understandings pursuant to the Roadmap. It also requires the President to prove the Hamas-controlled PA has made demonstrable progress toward purging from its security services individuals with ties to terrorism, dismantling all terrorist infrastructure and cooperating with Israel’s security services, halting anti-American and anti-Israel incitement, and ensuring democracy and financial transparency.
President Obama approved the transfer of funds to the PA, utilizing an exemption from the requirement to promote the cessation of terrorism and incitement on the grounds of national security interests. Other exemptions allowed under the legislation, upon certification to Congress, include assistance for administrative and personal security costs for the office of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and to cover the expenses for his official activities, as well as funding for the judiciary branch of the PA and other entities. The announcement of the waiver, published October 7, did not include information on the amount or its purpose.
Previous U.S. funds authorized for the PA and earmarked to for PA civil service salaries have ended up in Hamas hands. In 2009, PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad spent NIS 90 million ($21.5 million) to rebuild Hamas-ruled Gaza, with tax revenues transferred by Israel with the understanding that the money would go to PA civil service salaries. Instead, Hamas directly received the funds, and no money was deposited in the workers accounts in Gaza banks, an outright violation of the agreement (Chana Yaar, Obama Uses Security Waiver to Evade PA Funding Restrictions, Israel National News, October 11, 2010).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, ZOA strongly opposes this increase in aid to Abbas and the PA, because it rewards the PAs on-going refusal to have direct talks with Israel while continuing to promote hatred of Israel and Jews in every aspect of their society and culture.
There can be no hope of Palestinian moderation or reform if there is no accountability and unmerited rewards lavished upon the PA. still less so, when President Obama side-steps with this waiver even the minimal reporting requirements under the law which stipulate that money given to the PA must not reach Hamas and must be delivered only within the context of promoting an end to sponsorship of terrorism and the incitement to hatred and murder that feeds it.
With this move, President Obama has done the exact opposite of what promoting peace demands. Instead of suspending aid to the PA for failing to end support for terrorism, rejection of Israel and incitement to hatred and murder, but he has now hugely increased U.S. aid, rewarding extremism and non-compliance while continuing to ignore Palestinian incitement.
In May, President Obama said that he intended to hold both sides accountable for actions that undermine trust during the talks but having ignored all instances of PA incitement since that date, he now further rewards the PA, invoking a waiver without explanation in order to deliver more funds to the PA, irrespective of whom may be the eventual recipients.
It is past time for the Obama Administration to honor its commitment to hold Palestinian leaders accountable for incitement to violence and hatred. This requires withholding aid, not continuing it and increasing it.
We urge all supporters of Israel to contact the White House (P: P: 202-456-1111; F: 202-456-2461; E: email@example.com) and their Members of Congress and Senators to express their criticism and concern at this unwarranted increase in aid to Abbas PA. House and Senate members can be reached through the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and through our website.