This is a guest post by Stephen Hoffman
Let me make this clear at the outset, I have no doubt whatsoever that many Palestinians suffer greatly and live in poverty. I’m even prepared to admit although a lot of this is due to Hamas turning Gaza into a terrorist training camp and Fatah running the West Bank as its own personal fiefdom, that Israel are no angels when it comes to its treatment of Palestinians.
Therefore, I have no problem in UK aid money going to Palestinians who really need it, as anything that can give hope to Palestinians lessens the chance of them turning to violence. The problem is though, numerous reports show that is not where the aid money is going. Rather it’s lining the hands of Palestinian terrorists, whose raison d’etre is attempting to destroy everything they touch whether that’s Israeli lives, Palestinian hopes and dreams, as well as Palestinians caught in the crossfire and their ultimate goal the destruction of Israel. Supposedly the Department for International Development gives aid money to the Palestinians to help build Palestinian civil society and encourage peace efforts between Israelis and Palestinians. That’s all very laudable, but perhaps before giving taxpayers’ money away like confetti, it would have been a good idea to do a cursory check on where the money’s actually going. I would have thought that to be a good idea, considering the Palestinian leadership does have a track record of embezzling money or using it to fund terrorists. Yet despite protestations to the contrary nothing of the sort has taken place. I for one object to taxpayers’ money being spent on murderers who would like to see my relatives dead for the crimes of being Jewish and Israeli.
Lest you think this is a rant based on little evidence, I’d like to share some facts with you. In the past five years the Palestinian Authority (PA) has taken £130 million in foreign aid from the Department for International Development. Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) who have done studies into where the money has gone have made credible claims that Britain may have been intentionally misled by the PA, who said they had stopped controversial payments amounting to an estimated £84 million annual wage bill for around 5,500 terrorists locked up in Israel.
In fact there is little proof that this blood money has stopped. I find it gut-wrenching that among those now eligible are Abdullah Barghouti, Hassan Salameh and Jamal Abu Al-Hijja who are serving 122 life sentences between them for planning suicide bombings. The Government talks about fighting extremist terror, yet here they are indirectly rewarding them, with PMW saying that our aid money could be being used to fund the salaries and bonuses of 5,000 terrorists. I thought the UK was committed to fighting terrorism!
It may sound callous, but until the Department for International Development can with any certainty say that none of the money it gives to the Palestinian Authority will end up in the hands of terrorists, we must consider freezing funding to the PA. After all the UK Government says its supports the peace process and a two state solution, so it’s about time it stopped funding people who want to tear up the peace process and destroy Israel. At the very least, an independent audit of all UK Government money given to the PA is in order.
Please see the full report on the matter by PMW here.
Stephen Hoffman is the Director of Middle East Studies for Parliament Street and tweets at @thehoff102