In March, Congress passed the Taylor Force Act, which withholds funding from the Palestinian Authority (PA) until it ceases its practice of paying salaries and stipends to terrorists and their families to reward their crimes. For its part, Israel has followed up with its own version of the law. Now Mahmoud Abbas, the PA’s president, is threatening to suspend security cooperation with Jerusalem if it enforces the law. But, writes Maurice Hirsch, if he does so he will only shoot himself in the foot. Furthermore, a more recent congressional measure will soon put him in even more of a bind:
[S]ecurity coordination serves Abbas no less than it serves Israel, [since] the PA uses it to pass information to Israel about Hamas terrorist activities. Israel then arrests the terrorists, thereby avoiding potential terrorist attacks, but also eliminating Abbas’s competition.
Abbas’s threat, which he publicly links to the Israeli implementation of the new law, may well become a reality, but for completely different [reasons]. In October, the U.S. passed additional legislation that provides its courts with jurisdiction to adjudicate claims of U.S. victims of terror against any recipient of U.S. aid. While the Taylor Force Act put a stop to most American aid to the PA, it did not stop the funds—some $61 million annually—designated for security coordination. If the PA continues to accept this aid, it will be exposing itself to the risk of losing dozens of lawsuits for its direct involvement in terrorism. This, more than Israel’s implementation of the new law, is much more likely to be a dominant factor in any PA decision.
The real reason for the PA’s potential financial collapse is that it squanders more than 7 percent of its annual budget on rewarding terrorists. Abbas’s threats to halt security coordination, ostensibly because of Israel’s new law, should be seen in their wider context, most particularly, the clear fear that instead of rewarding terrorists the PA will have to start compensating the victims.