If the PLO Wants an Office in Washington, It Should End Pay for Slay

Pursuant to a 1987 act of Congress, in 2018, the U.S. government shut down the Washington, DC diplomatic office of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The PLO’s head, Mahmoud Abbas, has been lobbying for the mission to be reopened; David Pollock and Sander Gerber explain why the White House shouldn’t accede to his request so long the organization continues to fund terrorism:

[E]ven if Congress re-evaluates the modern-day PLO and determines it is no longer a terrorist organization, it would behoove the Biden administration to place conditions on the PLO for reopening its mission or receiving any new direct aid. A starting point for such conditions would be demanding the PLO end its “pay for slay” program, in strict accordance with [another] U.S. law, the Taylor Force Act.

Unequivocally, we know “pay for slay”—a program that establishes an enhanced benefits system for Palestinian terrorists based on how many Jews they kill—remains alive and well. A longer prison sentence means a larger payout and, to no surprise, the Palestinian Authority, of which the PLO is the dominant party, spends 7 percent of its budget—hundreds of millions of dollars—to sustain this terror network.

It simply will not do to rationalize this terror financing on the grounds that the PA also coordinates some security operations, in its own interest, with Israel, or that Abbas has opposed the “armed struggle” championed by both Yasir Arafat and Hamas. That is true, but it does not excuse the blatant hypocrisy and lethal effects of “pay for slay.” Nor will it do to argue that Abbas faces too much popular pressure to maintain this “program.” That is simply untrue. A credible Palestinian opinion poll from last year shows two-thirds of West Bankers agree that the PA should “stop paying extra bonuses and benefits to prisoners or martyrs’ families.”

Read more at Arab News

More about: Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, PLO, U.S. Foreign policy

Israel Is Courting Saudi Arabia by Confronting Iran

Most likely, it was the Israeli Air Force that attacked eastern Syria Monday night, apparently destroying a convoy carrying Iranian weapons. Yoav Limor comments:

Israel reportedly carried out 32 attacks in Syria in 2022, and since early 2023 it has already struck 25 times in the country—at the very least. . . . The Iranian-Israeli clash stands out in the wake of the dramatic events in the region, chiefly among them is the effort to strike a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and later on with various other Muslim-Sunni states. Iran is trying to torpedo this process and has even publicly warned Saudi Arabia not to “gamble on a losing horse” because Israel’s demise is near. Riyadh is unlikely to heed that demand, for its own reasons.

Despite the thaw in relations between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic—including the exchange of ambassadors—the Saudis remain very suspicious of the Iranians. A strategic manifestation of that is that Riyadh is trying to forge a defense pact with the U.S.; a tactical manifestation took place this week when Saudi soccer players refused to play a match in Iran because of a bust of the former Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Suleimani, [a master terrorist whose militias have wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East, including within Saudi borders].

Of course, Israel is trying to bring Saudi Arabia into its orbit and to create a strong common front against Iran. The attack in Syria is ostensibly unrelated to the normalization process and is meant to prevent the terrorists on Israel’s northern border from laying their hands on sophisticated arms, but it nevertheless serves as a clear reminder for Riyadh that it must not scale back its fight against the constant danger posed by Iran.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, Syria