The Palestinian Authority admits that it’s a terrorist organization
The Palestinian Authority admits that it’s a terrorist organization

Stephen M. Flatow, a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, is an attorney in New Jersey. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.

The Palestinian Authority’s new budget for 2018 openly states, for the first time, that the PA is directly paying salaries to imprisoned terrorists. By the U.S. government’s own definition, that makes the PA a terrorist organization and it should be treated as such.

This devastating new information comes from the indefatigable researchers of Palestinian Media Watch (PMW). They’ve translated and analyzed the PA’s just-released budget for 2018. What they found would be front page news around the world—if the news media treated the PA the same way it treats other regimes.

The PA’s budget allocates funds for two categories of terrorists. One is for “families of the martyrs and wounded.” That is, families of suicide bombers and others who are killed or wounded while trying to massacre Jews. They’ll be receiving $197-million this year. The other category is imprisoned terrorists. The PA will be giving $158-million to the “Commission of Prisoners” to pay salaries to terrorists who are serving jail sentences in Israel.

That’s a total of $355-million in terrorist funds. It amounts to 7.4% of the PA’s entire budget—and a whopping 44% of the foreign aid that the PA receives.

Palestinian Media Watch explains that in recent years, the PA tried to hide its terrorist payments through the use of bureaucratic subterfuge. When PMW first publicized the terrorist payments in 2014, the PA quickly shut down its Ministry of Prisoners Affairs and claimed—falsely—that an agency unrelated to the PA, the PLO’s Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs, was providing the funds from non-PA sources.

PMW then uncovered the fact that the PA was actually transferring money to its “Palestinian National Fund,” which then gave it to that PLO commission, which then paid the terrorists.

“However, now the PA's budget for 2018 has revealed that the PA has resumed paying the salaries to terrorists directly to the commission,” the PMW budget analysis states. “This year, the PA openly lists the budget for these salaries to the Commission of Prisoners as a direct PA budget expense (listed as ‘transfer payments’).”

I appreciate the PA’s frankness. Now it’s time for some consequences.

One consequence is obvious. The PA's payments should trigger the provisions of the recently-enacted Taylor Force Act, which is supposed to reduce some U.S. aid to the Palestinians because of the terror payments.

But there is another important consequence that also should impact U.S. policy.

Well, what could be a more blatant “endorsement” of terrorist activity than providing large financial rewards to individuals who engage in terrorist activity?
Since 1997, the State Department has maintained an official list of terrorist organizations. The U.S. government has no dealings with these groups, and anyone connected to groups on the list is subject to various penalties and sanctions.

According to the information accompanying the list, the State Department’s definition of “terrorist organization” is based on a passage in existing U.S. law—

8 U.S.C. § 1182 (a)(3)(B). That’s a law which specifies the grounds on which a foreigner can be prevented from entering the United States. Terrorists are not allowed to enter. Various types of terror-related activity are listed as examples of what qualifies someone as being part of a terrorist organization.

Here’s how section (IV)(bb) defines a terrorist organization: “A political, social, or other group that endorses or espouses terrorist activity.”

Well, what could be a more blatant “endorsement” of terrorist activity than providing large financial rewards to individuals who engage in terrorist activity?

When the “Palestinian National Fund” and the PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs were being used to hide the PA’s terror payments, the State Department had a pretext —flimsy and disingenuous, but still a pretext— to claim that the PA was not responsible. But now the PA itself has dropped the mask.

Of course, there were always ample grounds for declaring the PA to be a terrorist organization. It shelters terrorists. It refuses to outlaw terrorist groups. It refuses to extradite terrorists to Israel. Terrorists who are released by Israel are rewarded with plum jobs in the PA security forces and other government agencies.

And the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade—which is listed on the U.S. list of terror groups—has been repeatedly documented by Israeli courts to be an arm of the PA.

But now we have the PA’s own candid admission, in writing, that it finances terrorists. It’s time for the U.S. government to officially label the Palestinian Authority a terrorist organization, and treat it accordingly.