Wednesday, July 11, 2018
Wall Street Journal - By Richard Goldberg and Jonathan Schanzer
For the full article go to https://tinyurl.com/y7g2dmqt
If President Trump wants to promote peace in the Middle East, his first step should be to declassify a key State Department report that would end the myth of Palestinian “refugees.”
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency is singularly devoted to the Palestinian refugee issue. Unrwa labels more than five million Palestinians “refugees”—an impossible figure. The first Arab-Israeli war, in 1948, yielded roughly 800,000 Palestinian Arab refugees.
Perhaps 30,000 remain alive today, but Unrwa has kept the refugee issue alive by labeling their descendants—in some cases great-great-grandchildren—as “refugees,” who insist on the “right of return” to their ancestors’ homes. Israel categorically rejects this demand.
Unrwa’s operations run counter to the broader mission of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, which is to resettle those displaced by war. Unrwa’s mission, on the other hand, keeps the conflict’s embers glowing by refusing to resettle Palestinians in neighboring countries or even in the Palestinian territories.
If Mr. Trump wants his peace plan to have a chance, he has to challenge false Palestinian narratives. He did this by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the U.S. Embassy there. For decades, Palestinian leaders issued maximalist claims on Jerusalem. Mr. Trump’s move sent the message that making peace requires accepting reality.
Mr. Trump can send the same message by declassifying one document. In 2012 Congress ordered the State Department to disclose how many Palestinians currently served by Unrwa fled the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and how many are merely their descendants. The Obama administration classified the report, citing national security—as if revealing foreign census data were a threat to America.
A year and half into office, Mr. Trump hasn’t reversed this policy, but momentum is building against it. In April more than 50 House members urged State to declassify the report. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has done the same.
Removing the label of “refugee” from millions of Palestinians wouldn’t hurt them. Instead, it would unlock their economic potential and create an opportunity for lasting peace. Perhaps that’s why the Palestinian leadership is fighting it. Once the refugee issue is exposed as a scam, Palestinian leaders would have to learn how to govern, not merely stir up antagonism with Israel.
The inability of Palestinian leaders to detach from this 70-year-old story raises real concerns about whether peace is possible. But if Mr. Trump is committed, he can send a clear message to the millions living in Unrwa camps: Your leaders want to keep you in squalor, while America wants you to prosper. It’s the most pro-Palestinian step an American president could take.
Mr. Goldberg is a senior adviser and Mr. Schanzer senior vice president at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
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Friday, July 6, 2018
Video Of The Week - Pay for Slay: The Palestinian Leadership's Terrorist Policy - https://tinyurl.com/yb3z32zs
By Alex Truman, from JNS – July 3rd 2018
The passage of an Israeli law to withhold funds that the Palestinian Authority uses to pay murderers for killing Jews is the correction of an unconscionable injustice. That a democratic country with a High Court of Justice has allowed itself to transfer funds month after month to a murder-sponsoring entity within its midst is not just bad policy, it is completely illegal and utterly immoral.
Israeli parliamentarians finally awoke to the reality that the P.A. pays more than $360 million a year to terrorists serving prison sentences in Israeli jails and to the families of terrorists killed while in the act of attempted murder. The payment scheme—on the law books of the P.A. from as early as 2011—bases amounts to each terrorist or family on the severity of the jail term, with additional incentives for terrorists holding Israeli identification cards.
Israel was not the first country to legislate against the “pay to slay” practice. In March, the United States passed the Taylor Force Act, which prohibits the U.S. from sending foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority as long as the payment scheme remains in place.
The bill was named after Taylor Force, a 26-year-old American West Point graduate who had served tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq. Taylor was visiting Israel as part of an entrepreneurial seminar connected to an MBA program at Vanderbilt University when he was stabbed to death on a popular Tel Aviv promenade by a terrorist from the Palestinian city of Kalqilya.
The terrorist was killed by police responding to the attack. To add insult to injury, Palestinians celebrated Taylor’s death, and soon afterwards, the terrorist’s family began receiving large monthly stipends—well in excess of average Palestinian salaries.
Several months later, Sander Gerber, a private New York financial executive and former board member of AIPAC, reached out to Taylor’s parents, Stuart and Robbi Force.
Gerber had recently been made aware of the payment scheme, and was shocked to learn that most Israeli and American politicians were clueless that terrorists were being paid to kill in accordance with Palestinian law.
No longer was the P.A. simply guilty of incitement to murder through school textbooks, television stations, social-media avenues and frequent speeches by Palestinian leaders, including P.A. head Mahmoud Abbas calling for the blood of Jews; the P.A. was proven to be an official terror-sponsoring entity.
Worse yet, most of the funds utilized to secure its budget and make the terror payments came either by way of foreign aid provided by the United States and others, or through a tariff agreement with Israel whereby funds are collected on behalf of the P.A. at ports of entry and then passed monthly by Israel to the Palestinian entity.
With this information in hand, Gerber enlisted Taylor’s parents in a campaign to educate lawmakers. Together, they demanded that both the United States and Israel stop sending funds that now could be proven were going into the hands of murderers.
For the United States, the issue was simple: The foreign aid that America provides is voluntary and can be withheld if it is deemed to not be serving America’s interests. For Israel, there were additional legal questions, as the funds are collected by Israel on behalf of the P.A. as part of the Oslo Accords. Yet once it was clearly established that the sponsorship of terror was a direct violation of the Oslo Accords, legal concerns were eased.
The U.S. Taylor Force Act was signed into law in March; it took several more months for Israel to follow suit. Despite calls by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for funds to be withheld from the P.A. from as early as 2015—coupled with his expressed support for the passage of the Taylor Force Act—the government sought to insert a waiver provision into the Israeli law.
Recently, the United States rejected an argument by moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The Trump administration was warned that the move would spark widespread unrest and destabilize the region. While protests ensued on the Gaza border, little violence was recorded in the West Bank and virtually none of the 250,000 Arabs living in Jerusalem—some just several hundred meters from the embassy—protested a move that did little to impact their day-to-day lives.
The passage of both the U.S. and Israeli versions of the laws to withhold funding is a testament to the relentless pursuit of Gerber and Force (who were both present for the Knesset vote). At an Israeli event in celebrating the outcome, Force noted that because they weren’t government officials, it might have been easier to push for the two laws’ passage.
Other countries are now taking notice. On the same day as the vote in Israel, Australia also announced it would withhold funds from the P.A. European nations may soon do the same.
According to the Israeli law, a review of the Palestinian budget line items and payment scheme must take place at the end of each calendar year. According to this provision—unless a stricter interpretation of the law is demanded—Israel will continue to send the monthly payments until the start of 2019, when a presentation will be made as to whether the payments have halted or not. If not, funds can be withheld in February.
Gerber, Force and the backers of the Israeli law are pushing for any funds withheld to be paid out to the victims of Palestinian terror who have secured judgements against the P.A. in court. This represents the truest form of justice: to take the funds once designated for the murderers and to provide them instead to the victims.
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