Friday, December 26, 2014

US aid to PA should not reward terrorists - Elliott Abrams



by Elliott Abrams


The intent is clear: Congress was aware of the PA's practice of rewarding individuals who ‎had committed acts of terrorism with direct financial support or financial support for their ‎families while they remain in prison. And Congress wants to be sure that aid from the ‎United States isn't paying for this, so for every dollar the PA spends we will reduce aid to the ‎PA by the same amount.


The omnibus appropriations bill recently passed by Congress contains an interesting ‎provision regarding the support for terrorists and their families by the Palestinian Authority:‎

"The Secretary of State shall reduce the amount of assistance made available by this Act ‎under the heading 'Economic Support Fund' for the West Bank and Gaza by an amount the ‎Secretary determines is equivalent to that expended by the Palestinian Authority in ‎payments to individuals and the families of such individuals that are imprisoned for acts of ‎terrorism or who died committing such acts during the previous calendar year.‎"

The intent is clear: Congress was aware of the PA's practice of rewarding individuals who ‎had committed acts of terrorism with direct financial support or financial support for their ‎families while they remain in prison. And Congress wants to be sure that aid from the ‎United States isn't paying for this, so for every dollar the PA spends we will reduce aid to the ‎PA by the same amount.‎

Good idea, long overdue -- but the language quoted above won't achieve that goal. First of ‎all, why only acts committed "during the previous calendar year?" Does that mean that ‎payments to someone who committed an act of terrorism two or five or 10 years ago is ‎exempt? Does that clause about "the previous calendar year" modify "imprisoned for acts of ‎terrorism," or "who died committing such acts," or both? Or does it modify all "payments," ‎which would be the logical meaning: The amount of U.S. aid is to be reduced by the amount ‎of all payments made in the prior year? Sloppy, last minute drafting of this provision is the ‎culprit.‎

The United States reduces the amounts of loan guarantees available to Israel by the ‎amounts Israel spends on settlement construction in the West Bank. There is a procedure ‎in place, whereby Israel tells the United States how much has been spent, State Department ‎or USAID officials verify the amount, and then Israel is informed about the deduction.‎

There's no procedure in place, as far as I can see, to implement this new provision. The new ‎Republican-led Congress should rewrite the above provision to clarify its meaning and ‎establish some procedures. For example, the State Department should keep a running tally ‎of all PA expenditures on behalf of all convicted terrorists and their families, and report it to ‎Congress twice a year. As a condition of receiving any aid, the PA should pledge to keep a ‎tally itself and report it to the United States. Once a year, the State Department should report to Congress ‎the amount it has actually deducted from aid to the PA, and announce this publicly.‎

But meanwhile, American officials dealing with the PA -- in the U.S. Consulate General in ‎Jerusalem -- should tell the PA the intent of Congress is clear. For every dollar they spend ‎rewarding terrorists, their aid will be cut by the same amount -- starting now.‎‎

From "Pressure Points" by Elliott Abrams. 



Elliott Abrams is a senior fellow for Middle East Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. 

Source: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=11031

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

No comments:

Post a Comment