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Editorial: Israel, US send message to the Palestinians: Stop rewarding terrorism

This week, Israeli lawmakers decided that they would no longer indirectly support Palestinian terrorism against Israelis. Knesset members voted to withhold over $2 billion in tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority – the political entity that oversees the West Bank.

The move comes two months after Congress passed a similar bill, the Taylor Force Act, named after Eagle Scout and West Point graduate Taylor Force, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan before enrolling in Vanderbilt’s MBA program. In March, 2016, Force was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist in Tel Aviv. His murderer was killed but the Palestinian Authority rewarded the killer’s family with a pension.

Rewarding terrorists and their families has been a popular public policy set in place by the Palestinian Authority. In this year’s $5.2 billion budget, the Palestinian Authority allocated $360 million to its Prisoners and Martyr’s fund. The “Pay to Slay” policy is lucrative for convicted Palestinian terrorists and their families. The terrorists or their surviving families can receive over $3,000 a month – or more than the annual salary of most Palestinian government workers. According to the Israeli government, some terrorists will earn almost $3 million while in jail for their deadly actions.

A year ago, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas described the payments as a “social responsibility to look after innocent people,” and called the terrorists “victims of the occupation.”

This policy dovetails with a larger ideology that was set in place decades ago in schools, in media and in mass rallies. It is an ideology that teaches children that Palestinians will never recognize Israel as a sovereign country; that Jews have no historical connection to Jerusalem or the rest of the Holy Land; that the Western Wall and Jewish temples are part of a fabricated history; that Jews are the descendants of apes and pigs.

Even with the restrictions on funding jailed terrorists, or their families, it is unclear if the Palestinian Authority will change its policy of rewarding terrorists and their families. Still, the decision by Israel and the US to end the indirect subsidies to terrorists should send a message that the Palestinian Authority’s two major patrons – Israel and the US – will no longer tolerate a policy that encourages murder and rewards terrorists.

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