Now that Australia is to be a card-carrying member of the UN’s Human Rights Council from January 2018 (alongside such giants of liberty as Cuba, China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Rwanda) we can stop smirking and actually do something useful with our membership. Suspend all $43.8 million of foreign aid to the Palestinian Territories (Palestinian Authority). We should be seen not to condone murder, much less help reward terrorists – especially as a UNHRC member.
In 2017, half of the US$693 million that the PA receives as foreign aid, US$345 million, was paid out as stipends to convicted terrorists and their families. The Foundation for the Care of the Families of Martyrs is dedicated to assisting an Arab who has been “wounded, killed, or otherwise affected as a result of their joining the revolution or the presence of the revolution,” against Israel and operates within the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Social Affairs. In 2016 it supported 35,100 families.
Countering Palestinian Authority claims that this is a welfare fund, the World Bank stated that “the program is clearly not targeted to the poorest households. While some assistance should be directed to this population, the level of resources devoted to the ‘Martyrs Fund’ and the injured does not seem justified from a welfare or fiscal perspective.”
The “martyr” payments are “exceedingly popular” among Palestinians and have been described as “part of the ethos of Palestinian society,” according to Wikipedia.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls the payments “an incentive for murder”. A bill introduced in the Knesset in 2017 would reduce the flow of tax payments collected by Israel on behalf of the Palestinian Authority to the Authority by the sum of annual payouts from the ‘Martyrs Fund’. Speaking before the United Nations Security Council on June 24, 2017, Israeli ambassador Danny Danon, together with Oran Almog, one of the victims of the Maxim restaurant suicide bombing, demanded that the Palestinian Authority cease incentivising terrorism by paying stipends to terrorists.
Germany is reviewing the payment of foreign aid to the PA ‘in light of the use of these funds to incentivise terrorism’.
In 2016, Børge Brende, Foreign Minister of Norway, demanded that the PA cease using Norwegian foreign aid for “martyr” stipends. He was satisfied with an assurance that Norwegian funds would not be used for the stipends, although the change was purely “cosmetic” since PA funds are fungible.
The Taylor Force Act, a bill proposed in the United States Congress in 2016, would end foreign aid payments to the Palestinian Authority until the payment of stipends to terrorists and their surviving families ends. Australia’s contribution could likewise be reinstated in that unlikely event.
According to its own website, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights “promotes human rights and the rule of law as the fundamental basis of national, regional and international counterterrorism policies and strategies.” Yes, it should.
We don’t hear anything about this subject from the pack of Palestine’s political supporters who want to recognise Palestine as a sovereign state. Over to you, Bob Carr, and your stranger friends, old and new.
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