The White House has recently raised the possibility of cutting funding for UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for caring for Palestinian refugees and their descendants; it has also threatened to cut direct aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) for its incitement to violence and violations of the Oslo Accords. To Jonathan Tobin, this is a reasonable approach:
Aid to the PA is seen as necessary to prop up the only available interlocutor for peace with Israel. We’re also told that funding the PA is a necessary part of its security cooperation with Israel.
There are elements of truth to these assertions. If the PA were to collapse, that would likely lead to Israel’s having to reassert direct control of the West Bank rather than the current situation in which the majority of Palestinians are governed by the corrupt Fatah party led by Mahmoud Abbas. But the PA’s need for cash to prop up its kleptocracy is exactly why the U.S. should be using its financial leverage to make clear to Abbas that a quarter-century of his organization’s holding the U.S. hostage in this manner can’t continue. Abbas’s threats of dissolving the PA are bluffs that should have been called long ago.
The same is true of security cooperation [between the PA and Israel]. Abbas relies on Israel to ensure his survival against the plots of his Islamist rivals as much, if not more, than the Israelis rely on the PA to help keep terror under control in the West Bank. . . .
American governments have tolerated [the status quo] because they felt there was no alternative. But . . . you don’t have to be a supporter of President Trump or of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to understand that [the U.S.] is right to demand that if the Palestinians want U.S. money they must, at the very least, come back to the negotiating table and cease funding and fomenting terror.
Sign Up For Our E-Mail List Get the latest from Mosaic right in your inbox
Sign up now for unlimited access