According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website, Australia will contribute $43.8 million to the ‘Palestinian Territories’ in 2017-18. DFAT explains ‘Australia seeks to align its support with the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) objectives’.
Well, the PA’s objectives include providing incentive payments to terrorists who injure and kill innocent Israeli civilians. In the event that the terrorist is caught and convicted, there is a sliding scale based on the length of the jail term – the more serious the terror crime, the more money paid. Alternatively, if the terrorist dies during his/her act of terror or is subsequently killed by the Israeli Defense Force, police or by an armed civilian, then there is also a Palestinian Authority Martyrs’ Fund to pay a lifetime benefit to families of dead terrorists.
The programs have been labelled as ‘Slay for Pay’ by critics. The PA announced on March 5 that it would increase payments under these programs for terrorism from US$350 million in 2017 to US$403 million in 2018!
In 2017 the amount paid by the PA to terrorists and their families equated to about 50 per cent of total foreign aid received. The unit payments are relatively enormous. According Palestinian Media Watch, convicted terrorists in prison can receive 12,000 shekels per month plus bonuses of 300 shekels per wife, 50 shekels per child and extra for being resident in Israel and Jerusalem. This can amount to about US$3,500 per month. By contrast, a teacher employed by the PA receives roughly $615 per month.
There have been occasions when captured terrorists questioned by Israeli authorities have confirmed that their primary motive was to gain financial benefits to improve the lives of their families.When challenged, the PA repeatedly refuses to stop the provision of financial incentives for terrorism, calling it welfare.
The US is implementing legislative measures, namely the Taylor Force Act, so called after a young American murdered by an Arab in March 2016 while visiting Israel. The legislation proposes to stop American aid while the PA continues the practice of paying terrorists.
To ensure an ongoing supply of young Arabs keen to commit terror will be available to Hamas and the PA, the children must be indoctrinated accordingly. Unlike any other group of ‘refugees’ the UN dedicates a special agency to the Palestinians. This is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. Its definition of the term ‘refugee’ is much broader than that used by the UN’s own High Commission for Refugees; someone forced to flee because of persecution, war, or violence, with children, grandchildren and future generations also deemed refugees.
UNRWA is not a neutral service provider, having repeatedly been found to be involved in political activism. In the 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas, rockets were found stored in two UNRWA schools in Gaza, and staff were found making anti-Israel commentaries. There is dispute to the extent of involvement of UNRWA senior management.
UNRWA provides educational services in numerous schools in Gaza and the West Bank. David Bedein of the Center for Near East Policy Research has led the translation by Arabic experts of the content of UNRWA school books; his most recent report being 6 February 2018.
The material provided to Palestinian children for their supposed education contains shocking textual paragraphs, maps, pictures and exercises. These often exhibit complete avoidance of the name ‘Israel’ and substitute demonising descriptions. Maps will be drawn in one colour and labelled ‘Palestine’. A maths exercise involves adding up the number of ‘martyrs’ killed. A terror attack on an Israeli civilian bus using Molotov cocktails is described as a ‘barbeque party’. A poem describes Jews as the devil’s aides. Jewish heritage is denied; ‘Jerusalem is an Arab city built by our Arab forefathers… a holy city for Muslims and Christians’.
The prestigious Simon Wiesenthal Center has presented such evidence to UN Secretary-General Guterrez and to US Congressional leaders. It is likely this is one reason Trump has announced substantial reductions in UNRWA funding.
Australia in 2017-18 committed $17.6 million to UNRWA, making us the 12th most generous nation in funding this agency. Unlike the US, Australia has not taken steps to reduce its UNRWA funding despite the matter having been drawn to the attention of Julie Bishop. It appears that both DFAT and our Foreign Minister have accepted without independent investigation assurances by UNRWA that the problems uncovered in 2017 have been addressed, contrary to Bedein’s evidence.
President Mahmoud Abbas has just commenced the 14th year of his 4 year term, having been elected in 2005. He has accumulated personal wealth estimated well in excess of US$100 million. Recently, via the PA, he purchased a private jet costing approximately US$50million. There seems little doubt that these funds have been diverted from the generous foreign aid of Western countries.
Funding this is madness and arguably the worst possible application of Australia’s foreign aid. The total amount and structure of financial incentives paid to terrorists and martyrs is undeniable and has been published in detail. The PA increased the budget for such payments and refuses to suspend the programs.
The educational material under UNRWA includes content which prepares young Palestinians to become terrorists. Australians would be outraged if any of our taxes are being used for incitement and reward of terrorism.
There is also an important moral imperative. Israeli intelligence last year helped Asio prevent a planned jihadist attack on an aircraft. How in all conscience can we provide resources to those who foment terror against Israel?
Our 2018-19 Foreign Aid budget is currently being formulated. The US has moved to reduce UNRWA and PA funding. There is a compelling case for Australia to stop funding the PA until payments for terror cease, and to reduce funding UNRWA until there is a rigorous audit of all its educational material.
Dr David Adler is President of the Australian Jewish Association