Gazan terrorists launched hundreds of rockets into Israel in recent days to overwhelm its Iron Dome anti-missile system, killing four civilians and forcing untold numbers of others to take cover. And on the West Bank, the supposedly moderate Palestinian Authority planted the seeds for more killing – albeit less flamboyantly.
That Israel is more focused on Gaza of late than the West Bank is hardly surprising. One can only imagine the U.S. reaction, and reprisals, if hundreds of rockets were flying in from Canada or Mexico.
In a televised address on April 29, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas conceded that his organization faces a financial crisis but insisted that it will continue to reject all Israeli payments because the Jewish state had the audacity to deduct the cost of stipends that go to terrorists and their families.
“Our position on this issue was, and still is, clear,” the 83-year-old Abbas told the Palestinian people, looking into a camera as he sat behind a desk. “We refuse to receive the money if any amount is missing from it, especially the amount [that we pay to the families of] the martyrs, or any other amount that they owe us.”
Indeed, his position is crystal clear. Abbas announced the policy in February after Israel declared that it would withhold $140 million over the course of the year, which it said was what Abbas’ government pays to the families of “martyrs” who died while trying to kill Jews or who were now held in Israel jails for the same reason.
Abbas’ refusal to take any Israeli money makes clear his top priority: Rather than accept any Israeli payments through which he could better serve his people, Abbas continues to sacrifice such payments at the altar of a higher calling – killing Israelis.
Moreover, Abbas’ government sets the stipends high enough to make killing a relatively lucrative occupation for terrorists or their families.
While the average Palestinian makes about $300 a month, a terrorist who’s jailed for less than three years reportedly gets $368 a month, while one jailed for at least 30 years gets $3,400 a month – which also is what the Palestinian Authority pays to the families of terrorists who die while trying to kill Jews.
It’s all part of a package of incitement and incentives under Abbas’ government — from calls on Palestinian TV and social media to kill Jews to school textbooks that promote a future Palestine that, by stretching “from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea,” would replace Israel rather than exist alongside it.
And, while continuing to refuse the Israeli payments, Abbas’ government found the resources in recent weeks to turn one high-profile killer into a hero.
On March 17, Omar Abu Laila, an 18-year-old Palestinian student from the northern West Bank village of Zawiya, stabbed Israeli soldier Gal Keidan to death and, after grabbing his gun, murdered Rabbi Achiad Ettinger, a father of 12. After Israel searched for Abu Laila for days, he died in a shoot-out with police.
Consider what’s happened in the weeks since those gruesome events:
The Palestinian Authority and Fatah, its majority political party, both declared Abu Laila a “martyr.” They named a street, a square, a mosque. and a football tournament in his honor him, and they erected a monument in his name. Meanwhile, Fatah’s student movement, known as Shabiba, promoted him to university students as a role model, while his visage adorned posters at Fatah rallies.
At the football tournament, several participating teams were named for other terrorists and murderers. They included the Martyr Marwan Zalum team, named for the terrorist commander whose team murdered an Israeli infant in her stroller; the Martyr Mahmoud Ghneimat team, named for a terrorist who — along with another terrorist — stabbed an 18-year-old Israeli; the Martyr Saleh Al-Barghouti team, named for a terrorist who — with others — shot and wounded seven Israelis, including a pregnant woman and her husband; and the Martyr Abu Jihad team, named for a Fatah founder and former deputy to Yasir Arafat who directed terror attacks from the 1960s to the 1980s that killed 125 Israelis.
“Martyr Omar Abu Laila represented the national model when he ascended to Heaven as a Martyr,” student leader Saleh Jabbar declared as the tournament opened, “and this was after he delighted the sons of his homeland and seriously wounded the occupying Zionist entity … His name will continue to serve as a source of inspiration for our children until we establish our state, whose capital is Jerusalem, on our national land.”
While the terrorists in Gaza fire rockets across the border, threatening a wider war with Israel, the Palestinian Authority plants the seeds of hatred and incitement that make Israel’s peace with the West Bank just as elusive.
Lawrence J. Haas, senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council, is the author of, most recently, Harry and Arthur: Truman, Vandenberg, and the Partnership That Created the Free World.