Time to Designate the Palestinian Authority a Terrorist Organization

Fatah, the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) and the largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), routinely incites terrorism in all forms of its media, propagandizes Palestinian students to commit acts of terrorism, devotes a large portion of its finances to pay terrorists and their families, and names many of its schools and roads after terrorists who have murdered civilians.  President Trump and Congress have rightly demanded a halt to Fatah's activities promoting terrorism, including the P.A. halting all payments to terrorists and their families, but to no avail.  To enable peace between Israel and the Palestinians, the U.S. must therefore immediately issue an ultimatum to Mahmoud Abbas and the P.A.: either cease funding, incitement, and indoctrination to terrorism in all forms, forthwith, or be designated as a foreign terrorist organization, with all the ramifications that pertain to that designation.

On March 21, 2016, a 21-year-old Palestinian terrorist murdered U.S. Army veteran Taylor Force and wounded ten other people in Tel Aviv.  Instead of condemning this heinous and cold-blooded murder of a U.S. veteran, Fatah posted a statement online hailing the murderer as a hero and a "martyr" and suggested that such attacks will continue.

In response, on March 23, 2018, the U.S. passed the Taylor Force Act as part of the omnibus spending bill (the bill was originally introduced in 2016).  The Taylor Force Act is designed to stop the flow of U.S. funds to the P.A. so long as the P.A. continues to pay terrorists and their families for acts of terrorism committed in Israel.  While the Taylor Force Act significantly limits U.S. funding to the P.A., the watered down version as passed in the omnibus bill could still allow the P.A. to receive as much as about two thirds of the roughly $400 million in U.S. taxpayer money it has been receiving annually, rather than an almost complete stop of U.S. funding to the P.A., as was originally intended.

The Fatah-controlled P.A. has adamantly refused to heed President Trump's calls to cease terrorism and instead continues to engage in terroristic activities despite a substantial reduction in U.S. funding.  The dramatic drop in U.S. funding of the P.A. is well warranted.  In total, over 140 U.S. citizens have been murdered at the hands of Palestinian terrorists.  The P.A.'s terrorist activities that threaten the security of U.S. nationals make it eligible to be declared a foreign terrorist organization.

On September 16, 2018, another U.S. citizen was murdered: Ari Fuld, a 45-year-old husband and father of four was stabbed to death south of Jerusalem.  U.S. ambassador David Friedman noted, "America grieves as one of its citizens was brutally murdered by a Palestinian terrorist," describing Fuld as "a passionate defender of Israel and an American patriot."

The Gatestone Institute pointed out that the day before the attack that killed Ari Fuld, P.A. president Mahmoud Abbas repeated his false allegation that Israel is planning to change the status quo on the Temple Mount by setting aside places for Jews to pray there.  Shortly after Abbas's incitement to terrorism, the terrorist posted his threat to murder an Israeli in response to Israel's "crimes" against the Al-Aqsa Mosque and other Islamic holy sites.

This is yet another example of Fatah's and Abbas's regular routine of incitement to terrorism.  For instance, in September 2015, Abbas explicitly encouraged terrorist attacks in Israel.  The continuous incitement to terrorism by Abbas and Fatah is by no means an aberration; rather, it is consistent with the PLO charter, which calls for the utter destruction of the State of Israel through violent attacks.

The PLO charter in Article 2 defines Palestine as having the "boundaries that existed at the line of the British Mandate" and in Article 9 calls for "armed struggle" as "the only way to liberate Palestine" (emphasis added).  The boundaries of the British Mandate refer to the entirety of modern-day Israel, with the exception of the Golan Heights.  The PLO charter that calls for the destruction of Israel is a real impediment to peace and must be radically altered.

The violence espoused in the PLO's charter is found with increased pervasiveness in Palestinian textbooks.  In August 2017, the P.A. completed its first full reform of the Palestinian curriculum since 2000.  According to an October 2017 in-depth analysis by IMPACT-se, radicalization is even more pervasive in the new Palestinian curriculum and pressures "young Palestinians to acts of violence in a more extensive and sophisticated manner," educating for "a long war of attrition against Israel" and opposing peace with Israel.

separate report by IMPACT-se from October 2017 listed 90 selected examples of the P.A.'s indoctrination to terrorism at UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East)-funded schools, including calling for the "annihilation" of the "children of Israel" (see example 9 on page 5).  No peace is possible in this environment of Palestinian indoctrination.  The P.A. (with UNRWA's help) epitomizes the antagonist mentioned by the psalmist: "I am peace, but when I speak, they are for war" (Psalms 120:7).

It is thanks to President Trump that the U.S. has recently completely ceased funding UNRWA.  He deserves kudos for this unprecedented move that makes it that much more difficult for UNRWA to continue funding indoctrinating Palestinian children to aspire to murder Jews.  This bold action, and others like it, could prevent the murders of many innocent people in Israel – including tourists like Taylor Force and American-Israelis like Ari Fuld.

The passage of the Taylor Force Act was followed by the July 2 passage of a similar Israeli bill called the "anti Pay for Slay law."  This bill requires the Israeli government to deduct the amount of money the P.A. dishes out to terrorists (and their families) from the taxes it collects on behalf of the Palestinians.  In response to the Taylor Force Act and the Israeli bill, Mahmoud Abbas vowed to continue funding thousands of terrorists and families of terrorists.  This follows Abbas's flagrant and shameless defiance of President Trump and the U.S. Congress by publicly designating approximately 7% of the 2018 Palestinian budget, or close to $360 million, toward this end.

Mahmoud Abbas's refusal to meet President Trump's basic demands comes at a real price.  In addition to passage of the Taylor Force Act, a complete cessation to U.S. funding of UNRWA, and more recent funding cuts totaling $35 million in September 2018, the Trump administration has ordered the closure of the PLO office in Washington, D.C. and expelled the Palestinian ambassador.  On September 10, the State Department explained the reasons for the closure of the PLO office.

If there is ever any hope of achieving a long sought peace that will prove successful in practice, it will be achieved only through a radical departure from engaging in, financing, inciting, and promoting terrorism by the P.A. (including the PLO and Fatah) or through new Palestinian leadership that abhors terrorism – both in word and in deed – including a major overhaul of the PLO charter.  The people running the P.A. must understand that they are precariously close to being designated a foreign terrorist organization; if they continue to fund terrorism that threatens the security of Americans in Israel, the funds necessary for their continued existence will quickly dry up.

President Trump has proven in word and deed that he seeks tangible peace between Israel and the Palestinians.  For any hope of achieving a breakthrough to peace, the Trump administration should immediately issue this courageous ultimatum.

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