The Palestinian Authority is now spending a sum equal to about half of the foreign aid that it receives from international donors on payments to Palestinian inmates in Israeli prisons, many of whom are convicted terrorists, and so-called "families of martyrs," a new study has revealed.
The PA's budget for 2017 boosts support for current and former Palestinian prisoners to $153.4 million, an increase of 13 percent over the previous year, according to a report published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs on July 24. In addition, the PA allocates $190.8 million to the families of "martyrs," an honorific given to Palestinian who are killed while carrying out a terrorist attack. The sum reflects a 4 percent increase compared to the amount spent in 2016.
The total sum spent on Palestinian prisoners and ex-prisoners, as well as the families of "martyrs", in the 2017 budget is $344 million. That figure is equal to 49.6 percent of all foreign aid to the PA, comprised mostly of donations from the United States, Europe, and even Israel.
Western donors have tried to put measures in place to prevent aid money from being used by the PA to incentivize terrorism. To that end, Congress is considering bipartisan legislation named in memory of Taylor Force, a U.S. Army veteran murdered in Tel Aviv last year by a Palestinian terrorist. The Taylor Force Act (TFA) would condition American aid by withholding hundreds of millions of dollars if the PA does not cease payments to terrorists.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is expected to unveil an updated version of the TFA on Wednesday. “What they (the Palestinians) are doing relative to rewarding terrorists for killing Israelis is beyond the pale,” Corker said. “We should have done it a long time ago. It’s something that we are going to speak to very soon.”
Israel on Tuesday marked Tisha b’Av, the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av, by using the occasion to discuss the issue of unity in the country.
The 25 hour long fast commemorates the destruction of the first and second Jewish temples, as well as a series of tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people.
To mark the day, the Sderot Conference for Society and the Sapir Academic College organized a variety of discussions on the issue of “baseless hatred”—which according to Jewish tradition was the cause of the destruction of the second temple—as well as the importance of unity.
As part of the program, Education Minister Naftali Bennett was in conversation with Avi Gabbay, the Labour Party’s new chairman. “It is inconceivable that in Israel in 2017, a person can be cursed in the name of a sector…The words leftist, Charedi, Arab, settler, are not curses. Each sector is first and foremost a collection of people with feelings," Bennett said.
For his part, Gabbay recognized the growing feeling of polarization in Israeli society, but argued that social media has created an aura of extremism that does not necessarily exist offline. “The majority of the public is still moderate and is either silent or simply not voicing their opinions as loudly as others," he said.
Elsewhere, in Ramle, Likud Deputy Foreign Minister Tzpi Hotovely was in conversation with Hadash MK Dov Khenin, the only Jewish MK in the Joint List, while in Lod, Greater Land of Israel ideologue Moshe Feiglin was in conversation with former Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner.
To mark the fast, hundreds of Israelis walked around the Old City walls on Monday evening and thousands were expected to visit the Western Wall Plaza. On Tuesday morning, Army Radio reported that many Jews were waiting at the Mughrabi Gate in order to enter the Temple Mount.
Iran helped fuel violent clashes over the installation of metal detectors at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem last month by providing food packages to demonstrators, Palestinian sources told Israel Hayom this week.
Iran distributed food and drinks along with a flyer depicting the Dome of the Rock and a quote attributed to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, which read, “With the help of Allah, Palestine will be liberated! Jerusalem is ours.”
According to Palestinian media reports, the food packages were handed out by an Iranian youth movement, but intelligence sources from inside the Palestinian Authority insist that the Iranian regime had its hand in the distribution of the aid.
“It is clear to us that the regime in Tehran, by means of its long arms, stands behind this catering operation,” a PA official told Israel Hayom. “We are talking about sums that reach millions of shekels, and the Iranians found a way to benefit from this and send a message to the Palestinian public right under Israel's nose that Iran is the one that takes care of them."
“The flyer attached to all the food packages with Khamenei's quote made clear who stands behind these food baskets,” the official added.
Over the past several years, Iranian leaders have made numerous statements calling for the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people. In June, Khamenei tweeted: “There is no doubt that we will witness the demise of the Zionist entity.”
The Islamic Republic has also long funded projects and operations against Israel, mostly through its proxies Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, which every year receive hundreds of millions in aid from Iran, as well as weapons and training.
A team of three Australian ENT (ear-nose-throat) specialists and a nurse arrived in Fiji last week to provide free health screenings and surgeries for dozens of children at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva.
The humanitarian medical mission was arranged by the Israel Foreign Ministry’s MASHAV Agency for International Development Cooperation, the Israeli Embassy in Canberra and the Australasian Jewish Medical Federation.
Through August 2, the doctors are treating up to 50 children whose ENT conditions cannot be handled by hospital personnel. They are working closely with Fijian doctors through the South Pacific island nation’s Ministry of Health and Medical Services.
One of the children they were asked to evaluate was 2-year-old Florabelle Taylor Moses, who has suffered severe breathing problems since birth. They performed a difficult five-hour surgery on Florabelle on July 28 and she is recovering well.
“I’ll forever be grateful to the State of Israel for sending a great gifted team of medical professionals to Fiji. You saved my little girl’s life,” posted Florabelle’s mother, Roberta Taylor, on Facebook page of the group Fijians Love Israel. “Thank you for your love and support for our little island. May the Lord God of Israel continue to bless the work of your hands,” Taylor concluded.
Doctors Eduard Pudel, Michael Gordon and Mark Fajgman, and registered nurse Gail McNaught were greeted by Fiji residents waving Israeli flags at Nausori International Airport on July 23.
Two days later, the new non-resident Israeli Ambassador to Fiji, Tibor Shalev Schlosser, presented his credentials to President Jioji Konousi Konrote. That night, an exhibition at Fiji National University highlighted Israeli innovation in many fields. Fiji and Israel signed an agricultural memorandum of understanding at the event.
Schlosser’s arrival coincided with the first anniversary of a MASHAV and IsraAID project to help rebuild 24 houses destroyed by Tropical Cyclone Winston in the village of Vuma.