by Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger
President Trump should cut/suspend/terminate foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA, since they have undermined US values and national security interests, by abusing US foreign aid to promote hate-education and terrorism.
President Trump should follow in the footsteps of effective and moral law-enforcement and homeland security authorities, who sustain and intensify their pursuit of criminals and terrorists, in defiance of the latter’s threats to escalate rogue operations. Western national leaders and police chiefs who succumb to – rather than defy and uproot - threats by rogue and criminal elements betray their constituents.
Suspending/ending foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA would reflect a decision to avoid - rather than repeat - failed policies by previous US Presidents, which provided a financial tailwind to Palestinian terrorism and hate-education, thus undermining US interests, including the pursuit of peace.
If implemented, President Trump’s policy may trigger short-term aggravation of violence, but would bolster the long-term US posture of deterrence and homeland security, by delivering a lucid message of determination to combat – rather than appease – terrorism.
A realistic worldview should be aware that there is no free lunch….
If implemented, Trump’s policy may reflect the realization that funding and tolerating terror-oriented regimes (just like indulging crime-lords) does not transform them into democratic and law-abiding regimes, but adds fuel to the fire of hate-education, veneration of suicide-bombers, financial support of terrorists’ families and overall violence.
Sacrificing realism – as costly, challenging and complex as it may be - on the altar of simplistic and tempting wishful-thinking transmits a message of vacillation, which generates a tailwind to anti-US - and a headwind to pro-US - entities throughout the globe.
President Trump may become the first US President to realize that UNRWA has not solved – but exasperated, inflated and misrepresented – the Palestinian refugee reality at the expense of the US taxpayer and the war on terrorism.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has resolved and settled - since 1945 - the refugee status of almost 100MN refugees throughout the globe with 6,400 employees. In contrast, UNRWA – which was established in 1949 as a 2-3 year relief agency - has perpetuated and misrepresented the refugee status of the 320,000 1948 Palestinian refugees, employing 30,000 people.
While the UNHCR forbids the inheritance/perpetuation of refugee status, UNRWA applies the refugee status liberally and in perpetuity to future generations, including Arab foreign laborers who were in the country for only two years before the eruption of the 1948/49 War.
President Trump’s position is based on US national security interests, realizing that the Palestinians have systematically sided with anti-US regimes, beginning with Nazi Germany, through the Soviet Bloc, the Ayatollahs, Saddam Hussein, Bin-Laden, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba and China, training anti-US international terrorists from Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America, subverting and terrorizing Arab regimes. Therefore, Arabs have limited their support of the Palestinians to mostly talk, refraining from (any) military and (significant) financial walk.
Withholding financial support from the Palestinian Authority may reflect the growing awareness of the marginal role played by the Palestinian issue, compared to the prime challenges facing the US in the Middle East (none of which is related to the Palestinian issue, either directly or indirectly): the Ayatollahs’ conventional machete at the throat of the pro-US Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Oman; the Ayatollahs’ violent expansion – facilitated by US policy - through Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen; the Ayatollahs’ subversive and terror involvement in Africa and Latin America; the nuclearization of the Ayatollahs (through collaboration with North Korea); the inherent vulnerability of the pro-US regimes in Jordan and Egypt; and the burgeoning profile of Russia and China in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf.
The dramatic transformation of US policy toward foreign aid to the Palestinians, may express the realization that the Palestinian issue is not the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Furthermore, it may signal the awakening of US policy-makers to the fact that US interests, and the Arab-Israeli peace process, may be better served by the US refraining from the introduction of initiatives, which have never been successful. In fact, the only two successful peace initiatives were directly initiated between Israel-Egypt (1977-1979) and Israel-Jordan (1994), with the US playing a most critical role in the conclusion – not initiation – of the processes.
Learning from – rather than repeating – past mistakes should lead the US to cut/suspend/terminate its foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA.
Moreover, according to the 2017 annual poll by Gallup, it would be consistent with the state-of-mind of the American people: 71% favorability of Israel, compared with 24% of the Palestinian Authority.