If Palestinians are serious about achieving peace with Israel, they will have to address providing financial incentives to commit terrorism, experts on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict wrote in The Washington Post on Thursday. The piece was penned by David Makovsky and Ghaith al-Omari, both senior fellows at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who served as senior advisors in peace process negotiations, and Lia Weiner, a student at Yale University.
“Every year,” the authors explained, “the Palestinian Authority spends more than $300 million, or 7.6 percent of its total budget, in support of two foundations dedicated to assisting families of ‘martyrs’ and Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons.”
One of these foundations supports any individual “wounded, killed, or otherwise affected as a result of their joining the revolution or the presence of the revolution.” The second is dedicated to financially assisting Palestinians in Israeli prisons.
“There is an entire official compensation apparatus that rewards prisoners who spent more time in Israeli prisons with official positions upon their release, including providing other forms of economic preferential treatment,” the authors wrote. “For example, Palestinians who committed acts of violence punishable by sentences of 30 years in jail or more receive a monthly stipend of roughly $3,000, about four times the average monthly salary in the West Bank.”
An article in Commentary from last month further explained the pay scale: “Salaries start at $400 per month for terrorists incarcerated for up to three years. They rise to $570 for those in for three to five years, and $1,142 for five to 10 years. For those serving more than 30 years, the salary is $3,429. That’s per month."
Nothing heroic about it--
The Palestinian terrorist group Hamas praised a car-ramming attack carried out near the town of Ofra in the West Bank on Thursday, which killed an Israeli soldier and lightly wounded another. The murdered victim was Elhai Teharlev, 20. Hamas praised the attack as “heroic,” saying it was “a response to the continued crimes of the Zionist occupation at the expense of our people.”
Another Hamas spokesman added, “Once again, the Jerusalem Intifada proves that it isn't a passing event, but rather a Palestinian decision to continue the struggle until freedom from occupation. There is no safety for the occupation army or settlers as long as they deny our rights, occupy our land, and attack our people and its holy sites.”
The “Jerusalem Intifada” is Hamas’ term for the wave of stabbings, shootings, and vehicular attacks against Israelis that began in October 2015.
The attack occurred as Israeli security officials have warned of a possible uptick of violence during the Passover holiday.
Last weekend, there was a stabbing attack in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, in which a Palestinian teenager wounded three Israelis.
Keep on keepin' on--
The Kansas House overwhelmingly passed legislation on Wednesday that would prohibit the state from awarding contracts to companies who are involved in boycotting Israel, the Associated Press reported Thursday. The bill passed 116-9.
States should not “subsidize or reward discriminatory behavior,” said Jacob Millner, Midwest regional director and senior policy analyst for The Israel Project.
“Hidden under the rhetoric of human rights and nondiscrimination, proponents of BDS advocate economic warfare against a democratic state and close ally of the United States,” Millner wrote in an op-ed published in February. “Fundamentally, BDS is about Israel’s right to exist, in any form. The founders of BDS have stated openly that their true goal is the destruction of Israel, and they’ve made clear that no change in Israeli policy will satisfy them.”
Kansas is the 17th state to either pass legislation or implement an executive order preventing states from doing business with companies that are engaged in the BDS movement. Late last month, the Arkansas legislature passed such a law. Upon this development, The Israel Project’s CEO and President Josh Block said, “Israel and Arkansas are great friends, and I thank the people of Arkansas for supporting this essential relationship, which is based on shared values. By passing this bill today, Arkansans are standing strong against discrimination, and are solidly on the right side of history.”
Block argued a few weeks earlier in a Washington Post op-ed that Maryland should adopt similar legislation: “By simply ensuring that no taxpayer funding goes to discriminating companies, our elected officials are protecting our state money from abuse. While important, that effort has no impact on any individual’s right to protest, boycott or speak out in any way.” Such legislation pushes back on the BDS movement’s singling out of Israel, in a world rife with human rights abusers like North Korea, Iran, and Iran, which is ultimately harmful to the cause of peace.
An unprecedented move--
Russia on Thursday said it considers Israel’s capital to be western Jerusalem, making it the first country in the world to recognize Israeli sovereignty over any part of the city.
Moscow’s unexpected announcement reflects “a sharp shift in Russian policy,” which had previously supported placing Jerusalem under the governance of an unspecified international regime, The Jerusalem Post reported.
In a statement “regarding Palestinian-Israeli settlement,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry announced: “We reaffirm our commitment to the UN-approved principles for a Palestinian-Israeli settlement, which include the status of East Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state. At the same time, we must state that in this context we view West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”
The statement also reiterated Moscow’s “support for the two-state solution as an optimal option that meets the national interests of the Palestinian and Israeli people, both of whom have friendly relations with Russia.”
Israel has ruled western Jerusalem since the country’s establishment, and assumed control of eastern portions of the city after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
“Russia’s ambassador to Israel will meet with Foreign Ministry officials in the coming days to discuss Moscow’s decision and its ramifications,” the Post reported. While Russia means for this declaration to be effective immediately, “there is currently no intention … of moving Russia’s embassy to Jerusalem.”
The Russian declaration comes as the Trump administration considers moving its embassy to Jerusalem, which would signal its recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the city. “No other country in the world,” the Post observed, “recognizes any part of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”
A diplomatic source told the Post that Russia’s motivation for recognizing western Jerusalem as Israel’s capital could be a way of deflecting criticism over its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose regime was accused of killing more than 70 people in a chemical attack on Tuesday. The source also suggested that Russia sees increased interest on the part of the United States in reviving peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and wants to play an active role in the diplomacy.