The Senate Should Stop Stalling and End U.S. Funding for Palestinian Terror

March 7 2018

In December, the House of Representatives passed the Taylor Force Act, which would withhold aid from the Palestinian Authority (PA) until it ends payments to terrorists and their families and takes steps to discourage terror. The Senate, however, is holding up the bill. Michael Barbero, Sander Gerber, and Michael Makovsky urge senators to prioritize its passage:

As soon as a terrorist is arrested, the PA provides him with a salary and, sometimes, a guaranteed government job upon release. The bloodier the crime and longer the sentence, the greater the reward. . . . The families of, as official Palestinian documents put it, “those martyred and wounded as a result of being participants or bystanders in the revolution” . . . also receive a monthly payment, health insurance, and tuition assistance. . . . In 2017, the Palestinian Authority budgeted $350 million to reward terrorism—around $160 million for jailed and released terrorists plus $190 million for terrorists’ families. This is roughly what American taxpayers contribute to Palestinians through payment of PA debts and direct support of projects in PA territories (excluding several hundred-million dollars to the United Nations Reliefs and Works Agency).

On strategic and humanitarian grounds, the United States should support the Palestinian people. A viable, uncorrupt, moderate PA serves U.S. and Israeli interests. Indeed, Israel and the PA cooperate on security matters, serving the interests of both parties, and it is important that such cooperation continue.

But none of these interests is served when the PA pays terrorists. Nor will suspending aid that amounts to roughly 8 percent of the PA’s budget trigger its collapse. Instead, it would pressure the PA to choose between terror and its people, revealing its true nature.

Read more at The Hill

More about: Congress, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy

To Undermine Russian and Iranian Influence in Syria, the U.S. Must Go on the Offensive

March 22 2018

When Iranian-lead, pro-Assad forces attacked U.S. allies in Syria last month, they found themselves quickly overwhelmed by American firepower. The incident, writes Tony Badran, makes clear that the U.S. has the capability to push back against the Damascus-Tehran-Moscow axis. By taking a more aggressive approach while working closely with Israel, Badran argues, Washington can at once prevent Russia and Iran from cementing their control of Syria and avoid getting drawn into a wider conflict:

Israeli assets can augment U.S. capabilities considerably. A few days after the skirmish in Deir Ezzour in February, Iran flew a drone into Israeli air space. Israel responded by destroying the Iranian command center at the Tiyas military air base near Palmyra, and then proceeded to bomb a large number of Iranian and Assad-regime targets. The episode again underscored the vulnerability of Iran, to say nothing of the brittle Assad regime. Close coordination with Israel to expand this ongoing targeting campaign against Iranian and Hizballah infrastructure, senior cadres, and logistical routes, and amplifying it with U.S. assets in the region, would have a devastating effect on Iran’s position in Syria.

By going on the offensive, the U.S. will also strengthen Israel’s hand with Russia, reducing Jerusalem’s need to petition the Kremlin and thereby diminishing Moscow’s ability to position itself as an arbiter on Israeli security. For instance, instead of haggling with Russia to obtain its commitment to keep Iran five or seven kilometers away from the Israeli border, the U.S. could adopt the Israeli position on Iran’s entrenchment in Syria and assist Israel in enforcing it. Such a posture would have a direct effect on another critical ally, Jordan, whose role is of high importance in southern Syria and in the U.S. zone in the east.

Assad and Iran are the scaffolding on which the Russian position stands. Targeting them, therefore, undercuts Moscow and reduces its leverage. By merely forcing Russia to respect Israeli and Jordanian needs on the border, the U.S. would undermine Russia’s attempt, more generally, to leverage its position in Syria to make headway into the U.S. alliance system. In addition to adopting a more offensive military posture, the U.S. should also intensify the economic chokehold on Assadist Syria.

Read more at Caravan

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Politics & Current Affairs, Russia, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy