Friday, June 5, 2020 -
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Trump stakes out the moral high ground in defunding the Palestinian Authority

In any other context, funding the PA would be prosecuted as accessory to murder.

The claim is made that President Trump’s defunding of the Palestinian Authority is counterproductive. Where is the motivation to make peace under the guidance of a superpower that punishes you? This is the question asked of a Trump administration that defunded the PA.

It is a good question. Clearly, someone needs to provide an enormous motivation to the PA to make peace, given the long history of wars, terrorism and failed negotiations. The critical issue is, what is the nature of the required motivation? Is it financial — a rock solid assurance that the Palestinian economy will, in fact, undergo a dramatic turnaround if the PA makes peace with Israel? Is it territorial — a rock solid guarantee that a Palestinian state will enjoy sufficient territory, sufficiently configured, to constitute a viable state? That is, will its territory will be contiguous and also enjoy access to the sea lanes to the west, Jordan to the east, Lebanon to the north, and Saudi Arabia and Egypt to the south and southwest?

The critique of the Trump funding cut-off as counterproductive to prospects for an independent Palestinian state rests on a rational definition of Palestinian motivation. If, in fact, the Palestinian motivation is economic, the PA would have shown up, and shown up enthusiastically, at the Bahrain “Peace-to-Prosperity” conference at the end of last June. If, in fact, the Palestinian motivation for statehood is territorial, it would have accepted the American-backed Israeli offer of Israeli territory in exchange for settlements, an offer made concretely under Bill Clinton and Ehud Barak in 2000 and George W. Bush and Ariel Sharon in 2008, and made generally under Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu in 2009 — each offer made while American funding of the PA was in place.

The Trump funding cut-off has illustrated the true nature of the motivation of both the PA and Hamas: an independent Palestinian state in place of, not alongside of, an independent Jewish state; a one-state, not a two-state, solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Trump illustrated the actual motivation of the Palestinian leadership by simply saying to the PA: If you are serious about a two-state solution, then stop financially rewarding successful terrorists. Stop paying “salaries” to Palestinians who murder Israeli Jews and anyone else in Israel, such as non-Jewish tourists (think Taylor Force).

Keep in mind, these Palestinian “salaries” to murderers are carefully calculated. The more time served in an Israeli prison, the higher the salary. Take one of virtually countless egregious examples: Five years ago, three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped at a bus stop in Gush Etzion. They were quickly murdered, though this wasn’t known for weeks. This cold-blooded murder captured headlines around the world. The chief strategist behind the triple kidnapping and triple murder was Husam al-Qawasmi. His initial “salary” for his “heroic” deed was 2,000 shekels per month. Because he recently passed the five-year mark in an Israeli prison, his salary was doubled to 4,000 Israeli shekels per month.

Note: The murderer was a member of Hamas, not the PA. It doesn’t matter. The PA financially rewards all Palestinian terrorists, regardless of which Palestinian faction they belong to, and regardless of how bitter the factions are otherwise divided.

President Trump stakes out the moral high ground in saying that the US will no longer finance “pay for slay.” Given that money is fungible, the US will no longer be an accessory to terrorist murders.

What about Palestinian motivation for statehood? Morality aside, in what sense does the Trump administration’s defunding of the PA constitute a motivation to seek a two-state solution? The defunding — in response to “pay for slay” — etches in lapidary clarity the true, present motivation of the Palestinian leadership: to destroy Israelis and Israel; to reject a two-state solution. The Trump defunding conveys this message to the Palestinian leadership: If you want American funding back, change your motivation to a rational one that welcomes your own economic rehabilitation and political independence.

The choice is that of the Palestinian leadership. Either the same-old same-old rejectionism, or a new day. Trump’s moral position may or may not turn out to be productive. Will the Palestinian response  continue to echo the “three no’s” of Khartoum back in 1967 —no peace, no negotiators, no recognition?

Copyright © 2019 by the Intermountain Jewish News

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