(June 5, 2019 / FLAME) Arguably the most significant contribution of Palestinian Arabs to human history is suicide terrorism. Now, the Palestinians are employing diplomatic and economic suicide tactics to forestall their increasing marginalization on the global political scene.
To emphasize their societal pride in the invention of suicide bombing, the Palestinians pay tribute to dead terrorists by naming city squares, sports facilities, college halls and even schools after them. With even more heartfelt generosity, large payments are made to the surviving families of suicide bombers, and also to those whose attacks failed and who were arrested by Israeli police. Both Hamas in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria offer terrorists serving in Israeli prisons substantial, lifelong pensions.
Not unreasonably, Israel has major objections to this aspect of Palestinian policy, known informally as “pay-for-slay.” Now, since much of the P.A.’s budget comes from taxes and tariffs collected by Israel and routed to the P.A. in Ramallah, Israel is not just an onlooker with regard to these terror pensions and payments: Israel, in fact, has effectively been the paymaster of the pay-for-slay program.
That is, until a few months ago, when Israel announced it would withhold the amount the P.A. spends on pay-for-slay from its remittances to the P.A. So Israel recently sent the P.A. a check for about $150 million, withholding about six percent of the total collected on behalf of the P.A.
In high dudgeon, the P.A. sent the check back. Despite its precarious financial situation—due largely to the cutting off of U.S. aid over the same pay-for-slay policy—the P.A. refused the badly needed money because of its pre-emptive, top-priority policy of incentivizing and paying terrorists to kill Jews.
Due to the P.A.’s dire financial straits, most of its employees are currently working for half their salaries or less, and much of their civil infrastructure and other projects have been cut to the bone. (Pay-for-slay remains fully funded, however.)
In short, the P.A. is nearing financial collapse, and recent polls show that popular resistance to its continued rule is growing rapidly. It is taken as certain that, if elections were held today, Abbas’s Fatah-PLO candidates would be crushed. So would Abbas’s tenure as its president and chairman; Abbas is now in the fifteenth year of his four-year term of office. Hamas might well come to power in Judea and Samaria following Abbas’s demise, and this is why Israel—the Zionist enemy!—is doing what it can to prop up the current P.A. and its somewhat-less-murderous leadership.
Just as suicide bombing is the signal achievement of Palestinian civilization, political suicide may soon end up being the P.A.’s signature political achievement. If there were any viable peace-and-compromise party in the disputed territories, the terror-loving P.A.’s dissolution would be enthusiastically desired. But there is no visible path forward for the Palestinian people, so they—and we—are stuck with Abbas’s desperate kleptocracy.
So the P.A. continues its suicidal march. In April, Abbas told the gathered foreign ministers of the Arab League in Cairo—representing many of the P.A.’s primary Arab donors—that U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace plan, aka the “deal of the century,” can “go to hell.” This destination is apparently also recommended by the P.A. for the numerous Arab ministers who will be in attendance at the Bahrain confab.
Then, in May, newly anointed P.A. Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh announced great progress in planning his president’s year-old goal: economic “disengagement” from Israel.
In other words, while the world gathers in Bahrain to figure out ways to keep the P.A. solvent, spur economic growth in the territories and offer a ray of hope to the Palestinian people, the P.A. is embarking on an even greater rejection of any cooperation with Israel or the world on achieving these goals.
It is difficult to imagine a more suicidal Palestinian policy program than this “disengagement” plan. Israel collects most of the P.A.’s tax revenues—which the P.A. is already refusing to accept, as noted above. Israel is in firm control of every inch of the territories’ borders. The P.A. has no airports, seaports or roads that lead anywhere but to Israeli border controls. Who will deal with Israeli customs officials—or is the collapsing Palestinian economy going to reject all imports and exports to avoid Israeli “engagement?”
One of the few factors that has stopped the Palestinian economy from going into hyper-inflation and bankruptcy is that the Israeli shekel is the P.A. currency. It is not clear how the P.A . would underwrite a currency of its own or cobble together the financial infrastructure to support that proposed new currency. Who would trust such a currency?
Tens of thousands of Palestinian Arabs are employed in Israel, generally making considerably more than they would in the territories. They represent well over a quarter of the Palestinian workforce, and more than that of income. Who is going to replace those jobs and that income?
With disengagement from Israel—and the rejection of an increasingly large current and future financial-aid scenario—the Palestinians certainly cannot expect prosperity to flow from this lunatic package of plans.
Sane observers have long noted the self-defeating nature of Palestinian policies. The Palestinians have, over the decades, rejected the statehood they claim to crave, despite numerous generous offers. Their only plans for peace hinge on patently unrealizable goals, like the so-called “right of return.”
Their promising economic development after the Oslo Accords was utterly destroyed by their preference for killing Jews in the Second Intifada.
Gaza’s Hamas is no alternative: Remember the destruction of Gaza’s Israeli-built infrastructure after Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza? And consider the mountains of international aid to Gaza that are used for nothing but building rocket arsenals and invasion tunnels.
At some point, these Palestinian political suicide attempts will be successful. Perhaps the world’s focus should be on cleaning up the mess that will result from the well-earned demise of the most suicidal regime in history. Planning for Palestinians’ political suicide should dominate the discussions in Bahrain and at the White House, so the entire Palestinian population is not dragged down with their leadership.
Perhaps even sane, non-suicidal Palestinian leaders might be found hiding somewhere in those territories.
Ken Cohen is editor of Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME), which publishes educational messages to correct lies and misperceptions about Israel and its relationship to the United States.