PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen)
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen)Reuters

Attorney Morris Hirsch, a lieutenant-general in the reserves who worked in the IDF military court system for almost 20 years, has excoriated the Israeli government for continuing previous governments' policies of financing the Palestinian Authority.

Hirsch is also critical of the previous government, claiming that it saved the Palestinian Authority (PA) from financial implosion by giving it funds beyond what it was legally obligated to, but he is scathing in his condemnation of the current prime minister, who has overseen the transfer of billions of shekels to the PA even as Palestinian-Arabs continue to murder Jews and after the PA was exposed as being behind a major push to bring IDF soldiers to face trial at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

"It was the Bennett-Lapid-Gantz government that transferred 500 million shekels to the PA, saving it from financial disaster, and since then, 49 people have been murdered who could have been saved," claims Hirsch. "But the current government has also transferred money to the PA, over three billion shekels so far, and that's after taking off the tax revenues and payments owed by the PA for water, electricity, hospitals, and so forth.

"These are funds that Israel agreed to give in the Oslo framework," Hirsch explains. "Israel has been transferring these funds since 1995. In August of 2021, the Bennett government came to power and Bennett immediately implemented the offsetting law which brought the PA to the brink of financial collapse," he notes. The offsetting law was passed by a previous government and allowed Israel to deduct the amount the PA pays to terrorists or their families as terror salaries, from the tax and other revenues payable to the PA. "The idea of that law was to force the PA to make a decision: support life or continue to support terrorists. They chose terrorism and it was Bennett, along with Lapid and Gantz who spared them from the consequences of that decision."

Hirsch stresses that Bennett's transfer of 500 million shekels was in addition to Israel's "regular" transfer of between 12 and 14 billion shekels to the PA every single year, in line with the "Paris agreement."

"There are those who claim that the PA was on the brink of financial collapse and that [PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas] Abu Mazen humiliated himself by coming to then-Defense Minister Gantz's home in Rosh Ha'ayin, in order to get the funds," Hirsch adds. And although some insist that dealing with the PA is preferable to dealing with Hamas in the event that the PA collapses, Hirsch insists that this is not the case, explaining that the PA is widely perceived as moderate, leading the international community to treat it differently from the way in which it treats Hamas. Furthermore, according to American law, the PA cannot be directly financed if Hamas is a part of it and definitely not if Hamas holds the reins of power. "Right now, Abu Mazen is paying the murderers of the Dee family and the world still perceives him as a man of peace and a peace partner in every way," he emphasizes.

Asked whether Israel can practically stop its payments to the PA, Hirsch says that it's entirely a matter of resolve. "Israeli law says that the government can transfer funds, tax revenues that it collects on behalf of the PA, but this is not an absolute obligation. The funds are supposed to be given with the understanding that the PA fights terrorism and anti-Semitism and does not persecute IDF soldiers and Israeli leaders at the Hague courts. In practice, Netanyahu is likely to be the chief defendant at The Hague, which means that he is effectively financing the international investigation against him. It's insane.

"These tax revenues constitute between 65 and 70 percent of the PA budget, so it's clear that the PA couldn't continue to exist without them. The Israeli government must tell the PA: enough. For 30 years we've been pursuing the failed Oslo experiment and we've achieved nothing. We've ignored all the PA's breaches of the agreement, time after time, and it hasn't brought us anywhere nearer to peace - instead, it has cost us thousands of lives and continues to do so. The Israeli government must state that Israel is a country that values life and that we will not continue to finance those who slaughter our children or those who persecute our soldiers in The Hague or those who spread anti-Semitism. Nothing could be more logical or sane than making such a statement. We are not prepared to commit national suicide."

According to Hirsch, those wedded to the notion that the payments must continue "can always find 1001 excuses for why we can only exist as a country if the terrorist PA entity exists alongside us. This perception has persisted ever since Oslo, and it brings us to a place from where we can do nothing. This is a very short-term view of things, given that Abu Mazen isn't going to live forever, and after he's dead there's going to be a very messy power struggle with everyone scrabbling for an inheritance of billions (from Israel). Those who think this way don't care about the Palestinians. Then there's the security establishment with its 'coordination' with the PA - but did that save the lives of the Dee family or the Paley brothers? 49 people have been murdered because we continue to support the PA. Of course the terrorist attacks might continue even if we stop funding them, but it's clear that salvaging the PA has led to almost 50 people being killed."