By Barry Rubin
The U.S. government is rushing an additional $150 million to the Palestinian Authority (PA) so that it can have a balanced budget. Funny, the United States doesn’t have a balanced budget and the same government doesn’t think that’s a problem.
Moreover, the PA doesn’t really tax its own people. The U.S. taxpayer is thus subsidizing its free services at the rate of about 50 cents per American. Since the PA actually rules a little over two million people (since it doesn’t control either the Gaza Strip or east Jerusalem), this aid infusion alone provides each Palestinian there with about $75.
For more on Arafat see here. One can easily imagine what this museum will say about terrorism (endorsing), Israel (hating), and America (reviling).
I’m not advocating a cut-off in U.S. aid to the PA. Such assistance is indeed in the U.S. (and also Israeli, for that matter) interest. Having Hamas overthrow Fatah to take control of the PA would be a step for the worse and it is better if the West Bank’s economy develops and living standards there are raised.
But it is not so clearly productive to be rushing to give the PA even more money despite its high levels of corruption and mismanagement; paying a lot of the money into the Gaza Strip which (whatever the intentions) strengthens Hamas rule there, refusal to negotiate with Israel or reduce incitement to violence and extremism. The administration seems most willing to use U.S. aid as leverage to get concessions from Israel but never seems to consider this in regard to the PA.
Like this administration’s efforts toward a number of hostile countries, the U.S. government gives the impression that the PA is doing the United States a favor by taking its money. [For a broader view on this problem, see this article by Bret Stephens.] Here it is November 2010 and after almost two years the Obama Administration can’t even get the PA to negotiate with Israel yet at a moment of financial crisis in America is eager to subsidize that regime to the extent that it doesn’t even have to tax its own citizens.