The US has given the Palestinian Authority (PA) about $5 billion since the mid 1990s. From 2008 to the present, US aid has averaged about $500 million a year. Some of this money goes directly to training and equipping PA ‘security’ forces, and the biggest part of the PA’s own budget goes to ‘security’. On numerous occasions, members these forces have been involved in terrorism against Israel.
For years, the PA has been paying salaries to convicted terrorists in Israeli prisons and pensions to the families of suicide bombers, regardless of the faction they belong to. This created a stir in the US Congress and European countries, so the PLO is taking over the payments from the PA. Since the PLO receives its funding from international support of the PA, this has no practical significance.
The PA Unity Government, sworn in last week, is a partnership between Hamas and the PLO. Supposedly, none of the official cabinet members are members of Hamas (the word they use is ‘technocrats’). The US pretends to believe that all decisions taken by the PA are therefore independent of Hamas.
Even though Hamas has refused to renounce terrorism, PA President Mahmoud Abbas says that the policies of the new government will be his policies, which supposedly oppose violence. The US pretends to believe him, and apparently pretends to believe that he can or wants to control Hamas terrorism against Israel.
Hamas is at war with Israel, a US ally. So far in 2014, more than 140 rockets have been fired into Israel from Hamas’ Gaza territory (about 12,800 since 2001). Since the formation of the unity government last week, there have been several rocket attacks, including one yesterday.
Although the Oslo Accords that created the PA allow it to have only police-type security forces and light weapons, Hamas has a 20,000-man army (as of 2008, more today) and missiles that can explode in Tel Aviv. Hamas officials have said that they intend to keep their military forces despite joining the PA.
And yet, the US intends to continue supporting the PA. A cynical person might think the US is paying the Palestinians to fight Israel.
From the transcript of yesterday’s State Department briefing:
QUESTION [Matt Lee, AP]: So how many more rocket attacks do there have to be before you decide that it’s – that we made a mistake?
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, Matt, you’re familiar, I’m sure, with what the criteria are for delivering assistance. While we’re very concerned about these rocket attacks and we feel President Abbas needs to do everything possible to prevent them, we understand that his ability to do that is severely limited at this point in time.
QUESTION: So but then I don’t understand why – I can’t – I mean, if you think that this guy doesn’t have control over everyone who is either a member of or is backing his unity government, why would you do business with it? Why would you give it money? I mean, if you were one part of – I don’t know, one segment of the Israeli society, political society or otherwise, you could, if you hold Abbas responsible for this attack, hold the United States, in a sense, responsible for this attack because you guys are just continuing to support the unity government.
MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, there are no members of Hamas in the technocratic unity government – technocratic government, I should call it, which is the accurate … term for it. That is one of our criteria for continuing to provide assistance. We’ll be watching closely over the course of the coming weeks and months.
Why is the US supporting the PA? Ostensibly because it is the most likely candidate to take over in the territories that the US so passionately wants Israel to vacate. But negotiations between the PA and Israel broke down because the Palestinians were unable to accept the existence of a Jewish state between the river and the sea with any borders. Now with Hamas in the government, an agreement is even less likely.
What will it take for the administration to understand that a) the only acceptable deal with the Palestinians involves Israel’s suicide, and b) Israel isn’t suicidal?
I suspect that the US fears that even Hamas is better than the more radical Sunni Islamists out there. But if it wants stability, why doesn’t it simply support Israeli sovereignty over the territories?
That would be too logical, apparently.
If the prospect of Israel and the US on opposite sides of a war feels strange, the situation in Iraq is equally strange. The prospect of ISIS overthrowing the al-Maliki regime in Iraq has the US contemplating intervention of some kind — which would put it on the same side as Iran.
This is happening very rapidly — as I write — so a decision will have to be made soon.