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Getting It Backwards

While the EU, embroiled in a family feud over possession of the collective moral compass, continues to send mixed signals on its future funding of a Palestinian Authority under Hamas control, no such mixed signals appear to be emanating from an America that is normally (and rightly) seen by the rest of the world as suffering from political bi-polar disorder.

In a New York Sun article aptly headlined Congress Racing to Isolate a Hamas Regime, the situation in Washington is stated clearly. Florida Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen will be presenting legislation in the House of Representatives that calls for cutting the funding of both the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority and the United Nations, presumably until Hamas, now in control of the Palestinian Authority set up to govern the Palestinian Territories, disavows terrorism and recognizes Israel’s right to exist. As Daniel Pipes notes, the prospects of this happening are of the slimmest hopes, as the vast majority of the individual Hamas candidates who won seats steadfastly refuse to recognize Israel. The Bill has strong bi-partisan support in Congress and should pass with ease in both the House and the Senate.

Referred to as ‘The Quartet’, the EU, UN, Russia and the United States seemed to speak with one voice from London, saying that any funding from them would be “reviewed by donors against that government’s commitment to the principles of non-violence, recognition of Israel and the acceptance of previous agreements and obligations.” That this much was managed in unison is notable, but it should also be recognized that absent was any direct language that stated funding will not flow, merely that it will be ‘reviewed’, which leaves plenty of room for nuance, debate and deviation once the spotlight and the momentum and velocity of widespread public opinion have abated.

The Belmont Club offers a table of funding sources also referenced similarly in a BBC report. It reflects a breakdown of the EU’s $600M contributions to the PA and America’s $400M contributions. One interesting aspect is that the UN’s UNRWA aid ($77M) is calculated as an EU contribution, while the United States contributes fully 22% of the UN’s entire operating budget. Shift the accounting for the $77M and the US and EU contributions are nearly equal.

Regardless of inconsequential accounting techniques, there is a lot of money at stake. How quickly will Hamas begin to play the Fatah game of speaking from both sides of one’s mouth? Hamas clearly prides itself on its principle and its members are definitely more devout than the (relatively) secular Fatah. Over one billion dollars each year is at stake. Surely Hamas will begin to bend so far as to provide the simple lip service that worked so well for Fatah without accountability.

With that consideration, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh responded with a passionate plea for foreign aid that is so far largely falling on deaf ears, as Hamas’ history of murdering civilians with suicide bombings on buses and in restaurants precedes it. He said, “We call on you to understand the priorities of our Palestinian people at this stage and continue the spiritual and financial support in order to push the region toward stability rather than pressure and tension. We confirm to you this income will be used to pay the salaries of (government) employees and fund daily running costs and infrastructure. You can confirm this through a mechanism that can be agreed upon.”

Israel, for its part, has refused to continue to hand over tax revenues collected as a function on behalf of the PA. Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert minced no words, saying, “We are not prepared in any way, shape or form that money which the Israeli government transfers will come under the control of murderous elements who are interested in the destruction of Israel.” As the Israeli Prime Minister refuses to fund Hamas and its terrorism, Palestinian economic minister, Mazen Sinokrot, said in response, “If these salaries do not come in, this is a message for violence.”

The cycle continues. Israel has recognized that there should be a Palestinian State. It has unilaterally withdrawn from Gaza, largely reduced its presence in the West Bank and hinted at a full withdrawal there as well. Israel even collects tax revenues for the same very incapable territories that still send a seemingly endless stream of suicidal murderers on missions to kill as many as possible, indiscriminately, primarily at restaurants and on buses.

Yet the governing body of these territories has no reservations about demanding millions of dollars from a nation it not only refuses to recognize, but has vowed to destroy and whose civilian citizens it has systematically attacked to that end. That this thinking is even rationalized and its actors considered being presented at a negotiating table, at the UN or elsewhere, defies logic.

In an attempt to rationalize why the Hamas-run PA should be both funded and recognized as governmental equals, a commenter at ThreatsWatch recently said, “When status changes people change and thinking changes.”

This writer’s response was simply, “You’ve got it backwards, my friend.”

He’s got it backwards, indeed. As do Ismail Haniyeh, Mazen Sinokrot and, potentially, three-quarters of ‘The Quartet’.

Feedback

Israel should put that money in the next paycheck of the Palestinians who work in Israel, Then Israel can send the PA a printout of payments made every week and let the PA collect it from her citizens.

The US ought to use the $400 Million to fund a functioning, temporary Authority in Darfur. I'll bet that wouldn't be a moneytrap for 40 years.

The Israeli tax revenues that it sends to the PA is to the tune of $55M each month, larger than the US contributions to the PA last year, which included spillover from 2003/2004.

Steve, I understand that it is more than our contribution. Let's see how brief I can be.

I was trying to be as reasonable (maybe, bend over backwards fair is a better term) as possible wrt the above. Hamas' foreign policy position aside, the Israeli held money is Palestinian (territory residents) income taxes which the Palestinians owe their gov't. That's a little different than US taxpayers money being given to the Palestinians.

I will grant that Israel could claim the money in similar fashion that, say, Mexico (US) could claim the taxes from income earned by Americans (Mexicans) in Mexico (US). So, I'll stand corrected that there are two possibilities on that.

To tell the truth, I do not know which is more prevalent, either internationally or interstate in the US.