Last week, the United States took a step closer to giving the Palestinian Arabs $225-million, regardless of Palestinian behavior. Also last week, Sweden said it will not go forward with its aid to the Palestinian Authority if Palestinian corruption continues.
How can this be?
In Washington, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved language giving the Palestinian Arabs $225-million, which is $40-million more than the Biden administration requested at this stage. The committee’s action follows an identical step by the House of Representatives.
You may wonder how such aid can forward, when the Taylor Force Act of 2018 prohibits U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority until the PA stops paying salaries and rewards to imprisoned terrorists and the families of dead terrorists.
The answer is simple—they will elude the law by routing the funds through non-governmental agencies. But that’s just sleight-of-hand. Make no mistake about it: this is American money for the PA in another form. Aid is fungible. That $225-million will mean the PA has to spend $225-million less of its own money.
U.S. Senator Christopher Coons said the U.S. aid “reflects America’s core values.” I beg to differ. Terrorism, authoritarianism, and corruption are not American values. They are the values of the Palestinian Authority, a regime that deserves no American support.
Sweden, by contrast, seems to be having second thoughts about the $49-million that it gave to the Palestinian Arabs last year. During her visit to Israel last week, Swedish foreign minister Ann Linde indicated that Sweden may be rethinking whether to continue that aid. She said that “corruption at such a level as exists in Palestine” has to end “if we are to be able to fully support” the PA.
Let it be noted that Sweden is far from Israel’s best friend in Europe. The Swedes have passionately supported forcing Israel back to the indefensible 1967 lines and creating a deadly Palestinian state in Israel’s back yard. Sweden also still pretends that Tel Aviv, not Jerusalem, is Israel’s capital.
But apparently the Swedes are concerned about how their money is spent. I wonder why some of America’s leaders do not seem to have that same level of concern. I don’t see any statements from Sen. Coons or his colleagues saying that U.S. aid to the Palestinian Arabs should be conditioned on ending corruption.
Another interesting contrast: the Biden administration is withholding $130-military aid from Egypt because of human rights violations there. Yet the administration and its congressional allies apparently have no problem with the PA’s torture of dissidents, suppression of media critics, or mistreatment of women. Don’t Palestinian human rights matter?
Three years ago, two other European countries that are not particularly known as lovers of Israel likewise offered a model for the United States to follow.
Belgium, which had been giving the Palestinian Arabs more than $20-million annually, announced that it “will put on hold any projects related to the construction or equipment of Palestinian schools.” That was because Palestinian Media Watch exposed that a Belgian-funded Palestinian school, the Beit Awwa Basic Girls School, changed its name to the Dalal Mughrabi Elementary School.
Mughrabi was the leader of the Fatah terrorist gang that landed on Israel’s shore on March 9, 1978. They murdered an American Jewish nature photographer, Gail Rubin (the niece of U.S. Senator Abraham Ribicoff), then hijacked an Israeli bus and massacred 36 passengers, including 12 children. One of Mughrabi’s accomplices was later hired as a senior adviser to PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
Norway decided that it, too, does not want to be associated with Mughrabi. The Norwegians had contributed $10,000 to a women’s center in the PA town of Burqa. The PA named the center after mass-murderer Mughrabi. The Norwegian government demanded, and received, a full refund.
If these three European countries can stand up for the principle of opposing the glorification of Palestinian terrorism, shouldn’t the United States be able to do likewise?
American Jewish organizations need to speak out against the proposed $225-million U.S. aid package to the Palestinian Arabs. Our tax dollars should not be sent—either directly or indirectly—to corrupt, terror-promoting regimes. Belgium, Norway, and now Sweden, are setting an example that the Biden administration should follow.
Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is the author of “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror.”