Blood Money

Israel has finally decided to carry out an economic sanction against Palestinian Authority-supported terrorism, by deducting the amounts the PA pays out to the families of terrorists imprisoned in Israel and of those killed in carrying out attacks on Israelis.

This measure was approved by the Israeli government months ago. But while it gave authority to withhold the funds, it did not obligate Israeli officials to do so. Senior security officials argued that it could plunge an already desperate Palestinian people into renewed violence and regional instability. Not that they had any moral compunctions, just that pragmatically speaking, it wasn’t worth it.

But then, after the brutal murder by a Palestinian terrorist of 19-year-old Ori Ansbacher, Hy”d, in Yerushalayim two weeks ago, which provoked a wave of revulsion and anger, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu decided to seek Cabinet approval to implement the measure. This time pragmatism yielded, and the ministers voted their approval to keep money out of the hands of Mahmoud Abbas to reward terrorists and their families.

Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon rightly said: “No country in the world should pay the vile terrorists that murder its people. The blood money the PA gives to terrorists reflects its culture of terror and incitement.”

The absurd posturing of the Palestinian leader in response was outrageous, though not unexpected. Seizing the immoral low ground, Abbas declared that he will not accept any part of the monthly tax transfer if the deduction is made. He tried to make it sound like a matter of principle, instead of the terrorist ploy that it is.

He accused Israel of violating longstanding agreements and warned that it would be the “final nail in the coffin” of those agreements, and said he would not accept the funds if even “one penny” is deducted.

The amount in question is $138 million out of a total $222 million, according to estimates quoted by Reuters. According to the report, the PA’s total outlay for terrorists and their families, both living and dead, is about NIS 1.2 billion ($329 million) a year.

So, even with the deduction, terror payments will continue, as the PA has vowed. And, since where there is a will there is usually a way, they’ll find the money somewhere for such a worthy cause, and the evil recipients may not even notice the loss.

Of course, this is not a reason not to go through with the deduction. It does, however, mean that the reprehensible incentivization of terrorism practiced by the Palestinian Authority will not cease so quickly or so easily.

The brazenness of Mahmoud Abbas is perhaps somewhat more understandable when one considers that Israel has been virtually alone on this.

After the Ansbacher murder, Danon demanded that the United Nations Security Council publicly condemn the crime: “The Security Council’s silence will not help in this fight against terrorism, and will only allow the waves of hatred to grow unchecked,” Danon said.

“While this silence continues, the Palestinian Authority maintains its policy of paying salaries for terrorists and educating its youth with incitement, and a 19-year-old girl was brutally murdered in Israel.

“The Security Council has the responsibility and moral duty to make a clear condemnation of this barbaric murder, and to act firmly against the culture of terror in the Palestinian Authority, the very culture that undermines stability in the region and destroys innocent lives,” he said.

Yet, the silence continues. Neither the U.N. nor the European Union came forth this week to voice support for Israel’s decision to withhold the funds for terror.

The Europeans, at least, are not oblivious to the issue. Last year, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe called for the PA to halt its terror payments.

It was the first time in its history that it issued such a statement, even though it was inserted into a resolution condemning Israel for various villainies.

Even that only came after intense lobbying from Israelis, who have observer status at the Council.

News agencies such as The Associated Press were no help either. In the AP’s story on Wednesday, it seemed confused about who the victims and the perpetrators were:

“Abbas said he will not accept regular monthly tax transfers from Israel if it carries out its decision to deduct amounts the Palestinians pay to the families of prisoners and people killed in fighting with Israel.”

The reader might be excused for failing to understand what prisoners they are referring to — and thinking that — “people” killed in the attacks were not the victims, like Ori Ansbacher and her bereaved family, but rather the murderers who killed them. Nor that the “fighting with Israel” refers to the vicious stabbings of defenseless civilians.

Indeed, the word “terrorist” did not appear in the AP story at all. But that, unfortunately, is par for the course.