Aid to Palestinians is used to reward acts of terrorism

Published by The Times (20th October, 2023)

Abdullah Barghouti was arrested two decades ago. The Hamas bomb-maker was sentenced to multiple life terms in prison for the slaughter of 66 Israelis in savage attacks on a bus, cafés, restaurant, shopping mall and a university. Yet the Palestinian authorities have paid him £235,000 so far as a reward for the atrocities.

Documents show similar payments going to Ibrahim Hamed, jailed for murdering 46 Israelis. One killer freed in a peace initiative, who admitted to shooting two “collaborators”, told me during a reporting trip to the West Bank that he was being paid £605 a month.

Such “salaries” provoke fury in Jerusalem, where they are seen as incentivising terrorism. One Israeli monitoring group claims the Palestinian Authority spends at least £150 million a year through the Palestine Liberation Organisation on “pay to slay” support for jailed terrorists and families of “martyrs”.

Palestinian leaders defend their “social security” payments, which account for about 7 per cent of their budget. “These people are heroes,” one ministerial adviser told me. “We could be giving them much more money and it would not be enough.”

When convicted Hamas mass-murderers are paid five times as much as local teachers, it highlights a central concern with aid that has been pumped into the beleaguered Gaza Strip and West Bank. Just as with Afghanistan, we see a sad example of how pouring foreign cash into unstable societies simply fuels core problems by freeing up funds for theft or spending on conflict.

Britain has boosted its contribution to the occupied Palestinian territories this year to £37 million, while hundreds of millions more have been given by western allies, largely through the United Nations and World Bank. It is hard to argue that money thrown at development and peace-building in the region was well spent as Israel reels from horrifying bloodshed and bombardment reduces much of Gaza to rubble.

I saw British and European aid going into an education system that named schools and sporting events after terrorists — even the man who planned the murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics — while pictures of “martyrs” were posted on school walls. Such findings are supported by scores of reports, including one presented to US Congress this year alleging that aid-funded UN schools “create teaching materials that glorify terrorism, encourage martyrdom and incite antisemitism”.

Tragically, Palestine exposes again the toxicity of misguided aid and the complacency of naive politicians who claim that spraying cash around the planet can solve complex problems.

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