Mar. 19, 2018
Should U.S. Aid to the Palestinians Be Suspended? – Dr. George N. Tzogopoulos (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs:
Cutting American aid to the Palestinian Authority as a result of its insistence on paying salaries to terrorists and refusal to engage in the peace process means that Palestinian deterrence has weakened dramatically. The U.S. realizes that the legendary Arab Street is not really a threat and that the pragmatic Arab states consider other issues more pressing.
The Israelis are losing hope that there will ever be a Palestinian partner for real peace, the Arabs are giving the Palestinians the cold shoulder, and the U.S. is recognizing the reality about the conflict (Jerusalem, refugees, the Palestinian position as the main obstacle to peace) and is forming a peace plan they are likely to oppose.
Peter Brookes, Senior Fellow, Heritage Foundation:
The U.S. should reconsider the need for UNRWA at all, especially since every other refugee population in the world is handled by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. U.S. aid is not an entitlement. President Trump is right to expect that U.S. support will result in a Palestinian willingness to negotiate with Israel on finding a comprehensive peace. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened – and Palestinian intransigence should not be rewarded. The U.S. should suspend aid to UNRWA and the PA until the Palestinians engage in meaningful talks with the Israelis on peace.
Prof. Hillel Frisch, Bar-Ilan University:
The recent U.S. decision to cut aid to UNRWA is a move in the right direction and Israel should welcome it. UNRWA privileges Palestinian refugees over all others in flagrant contempt of the principle of equality, especially as most of them are descendants of refugees and not refugees themselves.
Dr. Asaf Romirowsky, Middle East Forum:
The existence of UNRWA allows the Palestinian Authority to continue dodging core responsibilities towards its citizens. With the withholding of UNRWA funds, the Trump administration has the opportunity to disrupt dysfunctional patterns that are long entrenched and fantastically expensive. It also has the chance to confront the PA with a choice: if it wishes to be regarded as a state, it must assume its responsibilities and act like a state.
U.S. support for UNRWA has kept Palestinians in stasis, promoted Palestinian rejectionism, and failed to advance either peace or U.S. policy.
Dr. Alex Joffe, Middle East Forum:
The process of giving aid to the Palestinians is ritualized and sacrosanct; it must be done reliably and in increasing amounts. Any cuts automatically result in the putative death of children and the inevitable radicalization of adults. The element of blackmail is inescapable. Palestinian culture has long internalized the belief that their political circumstances are the absolute responsibility of the international community.
U.S. aid reduction must be accompanied by a well-articulated message directly to the Palestinian public: welfare is not forever, self-reliance is critical, and the path for the future goes through negotiations with Israel.