The U.S. Should Do More to End Palestinian Funding for Terror

On Sunday, a Palestinian terrorist murdered two Israeli civilians and shot a third in the abdomen. While Israeli police are trying to track down the perpetrator, Palestinian officials have reportedly begun arrangements to reward him and his family financially for his efforts. The Taylor Force Act, passed by Congress earlier this year, withholds funding from the Palestinian Authority (PA) until such payments to terrorists and their families cease. Although the Trump administration has bolstered the law by closing the PLO office in Washington and further cutting funding for Palestinians, it has not abided by all of the law’s provisions, or made appropriate efforts to defend it publicly, as Sander Gerber and Thomas Trask write:

[According to critics of the Taylor Force Act and White House policies], cutting aid is rash and undeserved, will reduce U.S. leverage, and will empower Palestinians who say the PA shouldn’t even pretend to seek peace with Israel.

These critics are wrong, but currently their arguments are largely unopposed. The administration has yet to make a serious case for why its aid cuts don’t undermine peace but encourage it. This explanation is the missing piece of the administration’s admirable steps to impose consequences on the Palestinian Authority’s support for violence. [Its absence] allows critics to portray cuts as merely a product of personal animosity or the influence of pro-Israel advisers, rather than sound strategic thinking. Having been successfully portrayed as an aberration, no-strings U.S. aid can be quickly restored by the next administration.

Feeding this problem is the State Department’s reluctance to comply with the Taylor Force Act. That bill became law six months ago, and by now Foggy Bottom should have sent several unclassified reports to Congress detailing the pay-for-slay program, PA laws supporting it, and U.S. and UN efforts to inform allies how the PA uses foreign aid money. To date, State has not complied. . . .

The Palestinian Authority’s recalcitrance matters, because U.S. aid was never envisioned as a permanent entitlement or act of charity. We have provided aid because we judged it in our national interest to support state-building and peace, and we believed money would promote those goals. But our money has had the opposite effect: it has rewarded rejectionism, promoted contempt among Palestinian leaders for the United States, and encouraged a Palestinian society in which virtually every function of governance—from trash collection and schools to hospitals and infrastructure—comes from Western aid. These are not conditions in which peace is possible.

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Read more at RealClear World

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

Israel Should Try to Defang Hamas without Toppling It

Feb. 22 2019

For the time being, Hamas has chosen to avoid outright war with the Jewish state, but instead to apply sustained, low-intensity pressure through its weekly border riots and organizing terrorist cells in the West Bank. Yet it is simultaneously engaged in a major military build-up, which suggests that it has not entirely been deterred by the previous three Gaza wars. Yaakov Lappin considers Jerusalem’s options:

In recent years, the Israel Defense Force’s southern command, which is responsible for much of the war planning for Gaza, identified a long-term truce as the best of bad options for Israel. This is based on the understanding that an Israeli invasion of Gaza and subsequent destruction of the Hamas regime would leave Israel in the unenviable position of being directly in charge of some two-million mostly hostile Gazans. This could lead to an open-ended and draining military occupation. . . .

Alternatively, Israel could demolish the Hamas regime and leave Gaza, putting it on a fast track to a “Somalia model” of anarchy and violence. In that scenario, . . . multiple jihadist armed gangs lacking a central ruling structure would appear, and Israel would be unable to project its military might to any single “return address” in Gaza. This would result in a loss of Israel’s deterrent force on Gaza to keep the region calm. This scenario would be considerably worse than the current status quo.

But a third option, in between the options of leaving Gaza as it is and toppling Hamas in a future war, may exist. In this scenario, the IDF would decimate Hamas’s military wing in any future conflict but leave its political wing and police force in place. This would enable a rapid Israeli exit after a war, but avoid a Somalia-like fate for Gaza with its destructive implications for both Israelis and Gazans. . . .

On the one hand, Hamas’s police force is an intrinsic support system for Gaza’s terrorist-guerrilla forces. On the other hand, the police and domestic-security units play a genuine role in keeping order. Such forces have been used to repress Islamic State-affiliated cells that challenge Hamas’s rule. . . . Compared to the alternative scenarios of indefinite occupation or the “Somalia scenario,” a weakened Hamas might be the best and most realistic option.

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Read more at BESA Center

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security