“There’s no smoke without fire,” as the saying goes. And in regard to the millions transferred to the Palestinian Authority, the State of Israel is spreading very thick smoke.
“For reasons concerning harm to the security of the state and its foreign relations, the state is prohibited from providing all information,” the state says in its response to the High Court.
But if everything is kosher, if this is clean money that is not going either to terrorism or to illegal activities, and is not suspected of money laundering—why the secrecy? If everything being done has the “kosher stamp,” what foreign relations might be harmed? And what security might be breached, if we were to know the truth about the payments to the Palestinians? Will soldiers die, God forbid? What is there to hide, for God’s sake?
“It’s simple math, you don’t need to study accounting,” jeered Arava Alfasi, adviser to the Director General of the Ministry of Finance Ram Belinkov, when speaking to Knesset members who asked questions. In a session that took place only a month ago in the Committee for Foreign Affairs and Defense, Alfasi insisted that all was done as legally required, and that the MKs are the ones who do not understand the situation.
But if it is all so transparent, why did Alfasi not tell the MKs about the “extra-budgetary fund”? Why was this fund not mentioned in countless debates, previously held both in the Knesset and in the courts?
Without being an accountant – the answer is clear. The Defense Ministry, the Finance Ministry, the Civil Administration, and possibly also the Shin Bet security agency, are deceiving both the public and its elected representatives.
Why? Because they know that any financial tie with the Palestinian Authority exposes Israel to the risk of involvement in money laundering, and even funding terrorism. Yes, money that the State of Israel transfers to the Palestinians is eventually rolled over to encourage terrorist attacks, since many murderers go out on their missions because they know that their family will receive a terrorist allowance for the rest of their lives.
In addition, corruption in the Palestinian Authority is rampant and that is why even the Europeans have minimized economic ties with them. According to international law, any financial entity that dealt with money later used to fund terrorist attacks or for corrupt purposes, exposes itself to lawsuits for supporting terrorism and money laundering.
This is what is being concealed from the public. This is why Discount Bank and Bank Hapoalim no longer want to be the channels for these transfers. This is also the reason for the governments’ attempts, by both Netanyahu and Bennett, to open the “Correspondence Society”—a government company whose founding law stipulates in advance that its illegal actions will become legal. And we haven’t even talked about the undeclared capital and cash on which the Palestinian economy is run.
The defense institutions continue to support all this because they fear the collapse of the Palestinian Authority. This concern does not align with what is actually happening in Judea and Samaria. But even if it were real, is the Israeli public not entitled to know the truth about what the authorities are doing on its behalf? And more importantly, if the Palestinian Authority is truly on the verge of economic collapse, shouldn’t the Minister of Defense tell Mahmoud Abbas, “Stop funding terror and your Authority will not collapse”?
Ariel Kahana is Israel Hayom’s senior diplomatic commentator.
This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.