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March 4, 2006
The Gray Lady Gets It (Mostly) Right

As much as we use the editorial board at the New York Times as a punching bag on this blog, and deservedly so, we have to note when the get the big issues right -- and today is that day. The Times makes an excellent argument today on aid to the Palestinians that could have been written here, with one minor exception:

America cannot bankroll a Hamas government that preaches and practices terrorism, denies that Israel has any right to exist, and refuses to abide by peace agreements signed by previous Palestinian governments. That should be blindingly obvious. America is engaged in a global armed struggle against terrorism. It is firmly allied with Israel and is committed to Israel's survival.

Hamas won the recent Palestinian election fair and square. American officials, who say they are so forcefully committed to the cause of expanding democracy in the Middle East, should not even entertain the idea of doing anything to try to somehow undermine the results and install a different government. But that does not mean continuing to provide the subsidies that help pay for the Palestinian police, civil servants and other employees.

The Palestinian Authority is having a genuine financial crisis, but it is not America's responsibility. Continuing United States subsidies while Hamas is in power will not move the region one step closer to a fair and sustainable peace.

Of course, this is completely correct. The extension of aid to the Palestinians after their selection of a terrorist group as their government would be seen as a capitulation to Hamas and to terrorism in general. Such an action would underscore the supposed inevitability of radical Islam taking over Southwest Asia, and in fact would grant sustenance to the enemy of our greatest ally in the region.

The Times, however, does not go far enough. The editorial argues that the funds should instead be redirected towards NGOs that would somehow bypass the PA and get American money into the hands of the people ... the very same people that elected Hamas to power in a free and fair election, as the Times admits. This makes the situation different than in Saddam's Iraq, where a dictator forced himself on a prostrate people and we wanted to do our best to assist them. No one forced Hamas on the Palestinians; indeed, they seemed delighted to elect the terrorists into power, as they have every time Hamas has fielded candidates.

Why should people who support terrorism, in free and fair elections, see one dime of American money? These are the people responsible for handing the PA to the terrorists. They should understand not just on a diplomatic level but also on a personal level that their choice has consequences. Let Hamas feed and shelter them -- that's what Palestinian apologists claimed as the primary reason for their popularity. They chose Hamas over the goodwill of the world; let's take them at their word.

The editorial also goes astray when arguing for the continuation of tax transfers:

Washington should continue to press Israel to resume turning over to the Palestinian Authority the Palestinian tax and customs funds that Israel collects on the authority's behalf. This is not aid, but the Palestinians' own money.

Fine. But first, Israel should deduct the cost associated with the intifadas and suicide bombings, starting with Oslo, and apply it to repairing the damage and building the wall to separate Israel from the Palestinians. Then the monies should be held in escrow for the victims and their families of these terrorist attacks so that the Palestinians can compensate them for their suffering and medical expenses. Israel can also deduct the cost of providing security along the border due to the continuing efforts of Palestinians to attack Israeli citizens. Whatever's left over after that, the PA can keep.

Or, if that doesn't work, try this scenario: Israel will transfer the entire tax money for every month without an attack by Palestinians against Israel, by anyone -- Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, al-Qaeda, or the Ramadi Rotary Club. In any month with an attack against Israel, the tax monies revert back to Israel. Permanently. Let the Palestinians know that the Triangle Offense will have its consequences, too.

The Times unfortunately waters down its strong stand with these attempts to appease a people bent on a war of annihilation -- indeed, who voted overwhelmingly for one. However, it is surprising and refreshing to see them take the correct stand against terror and the people who vote for it.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 4, 2006 9:00 AM

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