Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s priorities are not geared toward helping his people, but on maintaining his grip on power, privilege, and finagling foreign aid.
The PA’s increased payments to terrorists and their families to $403 million a year, from $347 million last year are a stark incentive to violence and murder. Some apprehended attackers confessed to committing terrorist acts so as to clock enough prison time “to financially set their families for life,” said Eric Mandel, Middle East Political and Information Network director. Why bother with a PhD or vocational training when all you need is a kitchen knife and a few innocent bystanders?
With this “salary” increase, the PA is in effect swelling the ranks of its already bloated bureaucracy by hiring more terrorists—dead or alive, said Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Avi Dichter.
As the Trump administration considers slashing aid to the PA and UNRWA, the PLO propaganda machine has swung into effect, with official Saeb Erekat warning the reduced aid will mean children starving in refugee camps. Yet Abbas shrugs off and ignores the massacre and starvation of Palestinian refugees in war-torn Syria and elsewhere because he can’t blame Israel, said journalist Khaled Abu Toameh. As hospitals and homes in Gaza run out of fuel, electricity and medicine, Abbas just bought a luxurious new $50 million presidential plane.
Hamas rulers’ record is no better. While publically blaming its citizens’ suffering on Israel, Hamas was caught on video stealing electricity from a transmission line intended for Gaza’s hospitals, schools and residents suffering from multiple power outages, according to COGAT (Coordinator of Government activities in the Territories).
But it’s not just about stealing aid, fuel and electricity. Recently the PA, Hamas and Islamic Jihad rejected an invitation to an international conference in Washington, D.C., to help resolve the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
Both the PA and Hamas violate Palestinians’ human rights. The nonprofit Human Rights Watch cites violations of freedom of assembly and expression, media censorship; detention of political opponents and critics; arbitrary arrests, torture and forced confessions of prisoners, and the mock executions of civilians.
Hamas’s disdain for its people’s safety has been ongoing for years, as leaders deliberately expose their people to danger to milk political propaganda against Israel. One Hamas radio broadcast appealed to Palestinian women to offer themselves as human shields between Israeli soldiers and armed Palestinian gunmen hiding in a Gaza mosque. Two of the 50 women who responded were killed by Israeli forces. The PA also has used civilians as human shields, and requisitioned residents’ homes for arms smuggling, rocket launches, and munitions factories, according to Wikipedia. They blame Israel for any civilian deaths that result.
This "death-seeking" culture where women, children and the elderly volunteer as human shields was proudly trumpeted in a TV broadcast by Hamas MP Fathi Hammad, translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute. "The Palestinian people have developed its [methods] of death and death-seeking," Hammad boasted. "For the Palestinian people, death has become an industry at which women excel, and so do all the people living on this land. The elderly excel at this, and so do the mujahideen (Muslim guerrillas) and the children. This is why they have formed human shields of the women, the children, the elderly, and the mujahideen, in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine. It is as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: 'We desire death like you desire life.’”
Is it of no concern to Europe and other nations who claim they want to stop the suffering of the Palestinians that their leaders “desire death” but not life for their own people? Is it not astounding that those leaders who extol and encourage death, and urge their people to embrace death, openly acknowledge that Israel values and celebrates life—not only for its own people, but for the world? These Palestinian leaders do not fight in the trenches alongside the women, children and elderly they muster as human shields.
Perhaps a new, more enlightened Palestinian leadership could play a crucial role in preparing their people for statehood at this critical juncture. As new possibilities for Middle East peace dawn that recognize Israel’s sovereignty, right to exist, and values that enhance life, the Palestinians require leaders who are willing to step out of a 7th-century mentality and devote themselves to helping and prospering their people.