Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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Aid to the Palestinians: Why Rand Paul is Wrong

by Elliott Abrams
May 1, 2014


Senator Rand Paul has tried to attain some pro-Israel credentials by introducing S. 2265, the “Stand With Israel Act of 2014.” The bill would cut off every cent of aid to the Palestinian Authority unless various conditions were met. As Paul put it, “Today, I introduced legislation to make all future aid to the Palestinian government conditional upon the new unity government putting itself on the record recognizing the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state and agreeing to a lasting peace.” The bill covers “the Palestinian Authority, or any affiliated governing entity or leadership organization.”

Why is this not smart legislation? Among other things, it is not smart because it would force a cut-off of any U.S. assistance to the Palestinian security forces.

Under Yasser Arafat, those forces, at that time thirteen in all, were disorganized, totally corrupt, and wholly politicized; the late Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon used to call them “terror-security forces.” But since Arafat’s death in 2004 the United States has made a major effort to professionalize those forces. American generals have led efforts to train them, at bases in Jordan, and they have worked with American security and intelligence officials.

Perhaps more significantly, this effort has paid dividends in valuable cooperation against terror between Israeli and Palestinian forces. Consider this 2010 assessment from the International Crisis Group:

With certain exceptions outlined above, the General Intelligence Service (Shin Bet) provides its Palestinian counterparts with lists of wanted militants, whom Palestinians subsequently arrest. IDF and Israeli intelligence officials take the view that, in this regard, “coordination has never been as extensive”, with “coordination better in all respects”. Moreover, in past years Palestinian security forces were divided and internally ill-coordinated, leading Israel to work with only some of them; today, given a more centralized Palestinianian apparatus, Israeli coordinates across the entire PA spectrum. A senior IDF official went so far as to describe the joint work as “beyond our expectations.” [footnotes omitted]

In 2011, al-Jazeera revealed documents showing extensive Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation—whose extent indeed was revealed in an effort to embarrass Palestinian officials. A 2011 report by the coordinating body for aid donors to the Palestinian Authority noted that that year, “despite the stymied political process and the tense relationship between the government and the Palestinian Authority, in 2011 some 764 joint security meetings were held, a 5% increase over the year before.” In 2013, retired Gen. Shlomo Brom of the Institute for National Security Studies said “This is the best security cooperation we’ve had in years.”

There is reason to fear that since the departure of Prime Minister Fayyad in 2013, the Palestinian security forces are declining in competence and are being politicized; moreover, there is reason to fear that if there is a unity government of any sort the security forces in the West Bank will refrain from arresting Hamas-affiliated personnel. But Paul’s legislation would kill a successful project to which the United States has dedicated years of work and substantial funds, and would undermine Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation. If the Palestinian forces that we have trained stop cooperating with Israel, or start winking at Hamas terrorism, we should cut them off. Until that happens, a cut-off is foolish and possibly dangerous. Whatever the intent of Sen. Paul’s legislation, it is certainly no help to Israel.

Post a Comment 9 Comments

  • Posted by Sheryl Anne Rosenberg

    Caroline Glick, in her new book, The Israeli Solution, has the opposite point of view concerning the Palestinian security forces; essentially she sees them as a major threat to Israel. So, perhaps it would be better to starve them.

  • Posted by Anonymous

    Don’t you think that you went too far ?

    Do you think that it would be time to finance programs of cooperation which tend to assure an elementary security of the Palestinians ?



    Thank you

  • Posted by Beatrix139

    Both the Republicans and the Palestinians need skilled leadership.

  • Posted by Freedomfriend

    West Bank and East Jerusalem Palestinian Arab violence against Jews is unrelenting, the result of PA/PLO/Fatah/Abbas & Co, incitement to hate as meticulously documented by Palestinian Media Watch. Read Israel National News on line daily for a true sense of the level of PA Arab violence against Jews.

    PA security does not stop PA Arab terror against Jews. If Israeli security did not break up West Bank and East Jerusalem Palestinian Arab terror plots on a regular basis, the situation would be a lot worse. US should cease all financial AND political support to Palestinian Authority. Additional security funding should go to Israel.

    From Yarom Ettinger’s “Who Are You Mahmoud Abbas”: “Abbas’ strategic goal — the eradication of the Jewish state — and tactics — gradually, via diplomacy and terrorism — are specified by the 2009 Fatah platform and the PLO’s 1974 Phased, Step-by-Step Plan and 1964 Covenant. Both terror organizations are chaired by Abbas. To achieve the strategic goal, Abbas has spoken softly, while carrying a horrendous stick of hate education in schools, mosques and media, brainwashing Palestinian society and running the most effective production line of terrorists. Germany and Japan were transformed from hateful — to peaceful — countries by uprooting hate education and terror regimes, not by engaging and funding them.”


  • Posted by NuritG

    Why do we need to give assistance to the Palestinian security forces? It is going to be a demilitarized state with full intentions to be a peaceful state with no military intension so what for the security forces? Against who? Israel? is it a clandestine preparation for an army against Israel? STOP the double talk and the charade!

  • Posted by Paul Schnee

    In order to gain clarity we have to recognize that there has never been an Arab/Israeli conflict. All there has ever been is an Arab war against the Jews which predates the reconstitution of Israel in her ancient and historical homeland in 1948, the Treaty of San Remo of 1920, the establishment of the Mandate System in 1919 and the Balfour Declaration of 1917.

    The Palestinian Authority and Hamas are two sides of the same coin. Let that be understood. If you want to read one of the most unambiguous documents of hatred ever written then just read the Hamas charter. It calls for the destruction of Israel and death to Jews everywhere. The charters of the PLO and Hezbollah differ only slightly in their genocidal intent towards the Jews.

    Next, take a look at what happened in Gaza once Israel gifted it to the Arab Palestinians. If the PA and Hamas genuinely wanted peace then handing over a Jew-free territory, one would be confident in thinking, would have done the trick. It did not. Over 7,000 unprovoked rocket attacks later on her civilian population Israel is still paying the price today for her diplomatic largesse.

    The United States should insist that UNRWA applies the same international definition of “refugee” to the so-called Palestinians as is applied to all other refugees. This will have the just effect of reducing the real number of Arab Palestinian refugees to fewer than 50,000 thus ending the cottage industry of refugee manufacture and the hoax of ” the right of return”. UNRWA could then be disbanded and hundreds of millions of aid dollars could be diverted to something more useful and a good deal more fair. Of course The Palestinian Myth Machine, that massive, well-funded contraption of distortion, isn’t likely to favor that too much since it would be put out of the propaganda business.

    Then, Israel should reassert its sovereignty over Samaria and Judea where Jerusalem was its undivided capital a thousand years before Christ and sixteen hundred years before Mohammed.

    Here is what it boils down to; the Arab Palestinians have no case. In recorded history there has never been such a spurious claim that has managed to get itself transformed into a cause and is now asserted as a right. The American Indians have more of a claim to the entire United States than the Arab Palestinians have to the land of Israel. The Palestinians are no more an indigenous homogenous people than the equator is a country. All of their accusations about unfair treatment, apartheid and genocide are false. In all of the Middle East only 1.6 million Arabs enjoy complete political and religious freedom. All of them live in Israel. Reality cannot be repealed.

  • Posted by Freedomfriend


    3000 US trained Palestinian Authority “security” personnel going to Gaza to serve Hamas in Gaza.

    At some point US needs to see that Palestinian Authority and Hamas are two sides of same coin and cut all funding to Palestinian Authority and UNRWA. Additional security funding can be given to Israel to minimize the non stop West Bank and East Jerusalem Arabs violence against Jews.

  • Posted by ah

    Wow, for once Mr. Abrams, your commentators are more “hardline” pro-Israeli than you are.

    And even more, I actually agree with you for once. Cutting off aid to the Palestinian Security Forces would be an utter disaster and the surest way to immediately increase attacks against the Israeli Jews the people commenting here are allegedly trying to protect.

  • Posted by Schlomo

    It is really a sad state of affairs if not even Abrams is chauvinist enough.

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