Israel and Australia Join the U.S. in Punishing the Palestinian Authority for Rewarding Terror

In March, Congress passed the Taylor Force Act. Named after a Texan graduate of West Point who was fatally stabbed by a Palestinian assailant in Jaffa, the act requires the U.S. to withhold funding from the Palestinian Authority (PA) so long as it continues to provide financial incentives for terrorism. Last week, Australia announced a similar policy, while the Knesset passed its own version of the act. The editors of the Jerusalem Post comment:

Though it may be weaker than the Taylor Force Act, the law passed by the Knesset . . . will require the government to deduct the 1.2 billion shekels a year that the PA pays terrorists [from the] money Israel withholds from the taxes and tariffs it collects for the Palestinians. The American law, on the other hand, requires the U.S. government to hold back all discretionary funds for aid. . . .

Force was killed . . . on March 8, 2016, by the twenty-one-year-old Bashar Masalha from [the West Bank city of] Qalqiliya, during a twenty-minute stabbing rampage that injured ten others, including Force’s wife. Masalha was killed that night, but his family receives a monthly pension from the Palestinian Authority Martyrs’ Fund, a stipend several times the average monthly wage in the Palestinian territories.

There were three other attacks in Israel that March 8, . . . in which a dozen Israeli civilians and police officers were wounded in knife and gun attacks. Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, Hamas, and the Islamic Jihad all issued statements praising the attacks. Fatah said that such attacks would continue “so long as Israel does not believe in the two-state solution and ending its occupation.” . . . That was two years ago. But [the incitement] hasn’t stopped. . . . After the Knesset bill was passed, Palestinian officials emphasized that the PA will continue to pay stipends to prisoners and their families. Just last week . . . official PA television broadcast a song to pregnant Palestinians saying, “your fetus will be a martyr for Palestine.”

It is now the turn of others to stand up and do the right thing. Follow the example of the U.S., Australia, and Israel and call out the incitement and lies. Hold the PA’s feet to the fire and ask why killers or their families are being paid. Stuart Force, Taylor’s father, in Israel to watch the Knesset vote on the bill, [told a reporter], “Hopefully this will be the first step to ending terror, and maybe it will make the European Union and Canada check where their money is going.” Maybe.

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More about: Australia, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Politics

When It Comes to Syria, Vladimir Putin’s Word Can’t Be Trusted

July 13 2018

In the upcoming summit between the Russian and American presidents in Helsinki, the future of Syria is likely to rank high on the agenda. Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, has already made clear that Moscow won’t demand a complete Iranian withdrawal from the country. Donald Trump, by contrast, has expressed his desire for a complete U.S. withdrawal. Examining Moscow’s track record when it comes to maintaining its past commitments regarding Syria, Eli Lake urges caution:

Secretary of State John Kerry spent his last year in office following Lavrov all over the world in an attempt to create a U.S.-Russian framework for resolving the Syrian civil war. He failed. . . . President Trump [now] wants to get to know Putin better—and gauge his willingness to help isolate Iran. This is a pointless and dangerous gambit. First, by announcing his intention to pull U.S. forces out of the country “very soon,” Trump has already given away much of his leverage within Syria.

Ideally, Trump would want to establish a phased plan with Putin, where the U.S. would make some withdrawals following Iranian withdrawals from Syria. But Trump has already made it clear that prior [stated] U.S. objectives for Syria, such as the removal of the dictator Bashar al-Assad, are no longer U.S. objectives. The U.S. has also declined to make commitments to give money for Syrian reconstruction.

Without any leverage, Trump will have to rely even more on Putin’s word, which is worthless. Putin to this day denies any Russian government role in interfering in the 2016 U.S. election. Just last month, Putin went on Austrian television and lied about his government’s role in shooting down a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine. Why would anyone trust Putin to keep his word to help remove Iran and its proxies from Syria?

And this gets to the most dangerous possible outcome of the upcoming summit. The one thing that Kerry never did was to attempt to trade concessions on Syria for concessions on Crimea, the Ukrainian territory that Russia invaded and annexed in 2014. There was a good reason for this: even if one argues that the future of Ukraine is not a high priority for the U.S., it’s a disastrous precedent to allow one nation to change the boundaries of another through force, and particularly of one that signed an agreement with the U.S., UK, and Russia to preserve its territorial integrity in exchange for relinquishing its cold-war-era nuclear weapons.

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More about: Crimea, Donald Trump, Politics & Current Affairs, Russia, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy, Vladimir Putin