The Palestinian Authority: A Continuing Breeding Ground For Terror
By P. David Hornik
Except for rockets from Gaza—which, meanwhile, have stopped since Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense in November—you haven’t been hearing much about Palestinian terrorism. But it’s not for lack of trying.
Israel’s Shin Bet (domestic security agency) has released its figures for 2012. It says it thwarted 100 “serious” terror attacks over the year, a third of them planned kidnappings, four of them attempted suicide bombings. The Shin Bet also arrested 2,300 terror suspects in 2012, leading to 2,170 indictments.
For the first time in four decades, no Israelis were killed in terror attacks in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) in 2012. But the number of attacks there rose sharply, from 320 in 2011 to 578 in 2012. That included a steep, 68% rise in Molotov cocktail attacks, which are intended to burn victims to death.
These are big numbers—100 attempted serious attacks, over 2,000 suspects arrested, 578 attacks in one year in the West Bank. Considering that perhaps two million (the figure is disputed) Palestinians live in the West Bank, it would justify calling it a terror entity. As for Gaza, it numbers about 1.5 million Palestinians and fired 2,327 rockets into Israel during the year, finally necessitating Pillar of Defense.
Meanwhile, as Evelyn Gordon details, the Palestinian Authority is in dire financial straits. When PA president Mahmoud Abbas went to the UN General Assembly last November to seek—and obtain—recognition for the PA as a nonmember observer state, he was warned of consequences by both Israel and the U.S., since his move was a direct flouting of Israeli-Palestinian agreements—signed under U.S. auspices—requiring issues to be settled solely through negotiations.
Two months later the PA, says Gordon, “faces the worst financial crisis of its crisis-filled history.” Israel has been withholding about $100 million a month in tax revenues it collects for the PA. Salam Fayyad, the PA prime minister, calls this “piracy,” but actually Israel is using the funds to pay off the PA’s enormous debt to the Israel Electric Corporation.
As for the U.S., Congress has been withholding $450 million in aid. The Obama administration wants it to free up the money, but Congress keeps refusing.
Results for the PA: its 150,000 employees got only half their November salaries and nothing for December; it owes over $1.3 billion to local banks; it expects it poverty rate to double.
Israel’s and Congress’s insistence on exacting a price for Abbas’s November move is a welcome development; it lets the PA know that it is no longer outside the normal human cost-benefit calculus, with Israel indefinitely propping it up and the U.S. continuing to funnel it political and financial support no matter how it conducts itself.
Add to the picture the fact that, after almost two decades of existence, the PA—and not only Hamas-ruled Gaza—remains a breeding ground for terror, with only the Israeli security forces preventing it from taking a horrific toll, and there is all the more reason to reconsider automatic backing for “the Palestinians.”
While the Obama administration, for its part, remains committed to the idea that upgrading the Palestinians to statehood is somehow a U.S. interest, and Israel is constrained by the effort to get along with the Obama administration, it’s to be hoped that Congress will keep taking a hard look at the Palestinian reality after all the earnest effort to cultivate them as a positive force.