Sander Gerber speaks out on UN recognition of Abbas

Sander Gerber: The UN must not enable terror by continuing to legitimize Abbas and the Palestinian Authority.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

by Sander Gerber and Yossi Kuperwasser

On Monday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to meet with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. The UN announcement of the meeting doesn’t refer to Abbas as president; rather, it uses the term “His Excellency,” which is the UN protocol title for a country’s leader. Then on Tuesday, the “State of Palestine” will assume the Chairmanship of the Group of 77 — a coalition of 134 developing nations, designed to promote its members’ collective economic interests and create an enhanced joint negotiating capacity in the United Nations.

Abbas’ recognition by the UN as the legitimate ruler of the Palestinian people is nearly as bizarre as the UN’s near-acceptance of the idea that the Palestinian Authority (PA) contributes to global peace and prosperity. All this begs a question: Does the UN want to enable terror or disable terror?

PA law mandates that “salaries” be paid to Palestinian terrorists if they are caught or killed. The PA “pay-to-slay” programs — and the incentives they provide to perpetuate terrorism — are described in the Taylor Force Act, a US law enacted in March 2018, as well as in more recently enacted Israeli legislation. After much obfuscation and obstruction by the Palestinian Authority and the media, the existence of these payment programs is now exposed to all.

Sadly, too many UN member states have become terror deniers. Why doesn’t the UN join nations of conscience in their condemnation of the PA’s financial rewards and incentives for terror? Put another way — is the UN becoming a terror enabler?

For the PA, ending these payments crosses a “red line.” Palestinian officials, in Arabic, characterize terror trust fund recipients as “soldiers and sons of our nation.” But in English, they defend these payments as “social welfare” used to support “innocent individuals” suffering from the loss of a head of household “breadwinner.” This claim, which attempts to convert blood money into benevolence, is usually phrased like it was in this July 2017 statement by Husam Zomlot, the former PLO envoy to the US:

Characterizing payments for terror as social welfare is a deception that is frequently accepted at face value by Western governments that fund the PA and its terror payments policy. The problem with this claim, which could be called the “Social Welfare Defense,” is that it is demonstrably false.

This “Social Welfare Defense” collapses upon examination of the PA’s laws and budget, comparing and contrasting “pay to slay” terror payments with the PA’s formal welfare system.

Simply put, the PA system governing payments to terrorists is far superior to its regular, needs-based welfare system. Perversely, by using its budget to pay terrorists, the PA is depriving those less fortunate members of Palestinian society their fair share of government aid.

In the PA’s 2018 budget, funding levels for “pay-to-slay” programs were more than 1.2 billion shekels ($330,000,000) overall — consuming over seven percent of the annual PA budget. These payments were scheduled to go to approximately 10,500 imprisoned and released prisoners, and some 37,500 families of “martyrs” and injured terrorists. In contrast, the entire 2018 budget for the PA’s social welfare system is about $214 million, and supports 118,000 households — thus, a much larger group subsists on a much smaller budget.

Enshrined in PA law, payments to imprisoned terrorists are almost entirely dependent on length of incarceration, and not on personal financial circumstances. True social welfare recipients, however, are eligible based on need and do not get automatic payments. Once approved, they receive benefits of only 250-600 shekels a month, paid quarterly — and the maximum welfare payment is 57 percent less than the minimum “pay-to-slay” salary.

As defined by PA law, payments to prisoners are restricted to the “fighting sector”(“Alsharicha Almunadila” in Arabic) who are involved in “the struggle against the occupation.” Common incarcerated criminals are not eligible for payments, even if they are destitute. Terrorist prisoners are eligible for payments even if they are young and unmarried, with no dependents. Furthermore, released prisoners continue to receive salaries, regardless of need.

Terrorists and their families have no need for the PA social welfare system and would be foolish to use it, because they have access to a far superior system. And Palestinians, aware of this gap, capitalize on it. If one’s family is in a tough economic situation, terror becomes a solution, with hero status as a bonus. And what do the Palestinians see as their government’s priority? Helping the destitute or promoting terror? If you follow the money, it’s clear that terror is more attractive, quantitatively and qualitatively.

So if Abbas conflates prisoner salaries or martyrs’ family benefits with social welfare, remember that in reality there are two distinct systems operating here. By intent and design, the “pay-to-slay” program is simply money for murder. Sadly, too many UN member states have become terror deniers.

Hopefully, the UN will expose the camouflage and begin to push back against PA “state”-sponsored terror. This would be a positive step to enable the Palestinian people to take a legitimate seat at the community of nations. A peace process cannot be built on a foundation of lies.  The choice is clear: you are either a terror enabler or a terror disabler. We ask the UN — and the world — which side of the moral divide are you on?

Originally published at The Algemeiner

    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...

    Siddharth Chatterjee presenting credentials to Ambassador Amina Mohamed the Former Foreign Minister of Kenya, Sept 2016 Photo: @UNDPKenya

    From a Combat Veteran To a Humanitarian

    by Roshan Bhondekar
    It has Dr Sholom's picture with me. It was taken after his speech which I have written my article on.

    Five communication lessons in Five minutes by Ambassador of Israel, H.E. Dr Meir Shlomo.

    by Ruchi Singh
    Unplug & Recharge//

    Photographic Evidence That Sleeplessness Is Getting To World Leaders

    by Emma Haak
    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.