The Palestinians have demanded an end to the aid embargo now that they have created a unity government between Hamas and Fatah, regardless of the fact that the new government still has not met any of the conditions the West set for resumption of support. One might think that the sanctions might have convinced the Palestinians to change their policies, since they are so dependent on outside economic assistance -- but that would take actual sanctions. As it turns out, the Palestinians got more Western aid money than ever after the declaration of sanctions:
Despite the international embargo on aid to the Palestinian Authority since Hamas came to power a year ago, significantly more aid was delivered to the Palestinians in 2006 than in 2005, according to official figures from the United Nations, United States, European Union and International Monetary Fund.
Instead of going to the Palestinian Authority, much of the money was given directly to individuals or through independent agencies like the World Food Program.
The International Monetary Fund and the United Nations say the Palestinians received $1.2 billion in aid and budgetary support in 2006, about $300 per capita, compared with $1 billion in 2005.
While the United States and the European Union have led the boycott, they, too, provided more aid to the Palestinians in 2006 than 2005. Washington increased its aid to $468 million in 2006, from $400 million in 2005.
The European Union and its member states alone are subsidizing one million people in the West Bank and Gaza, a quarter of the population, as part of their effort to avoid creating a catastrophe from the embargo.
Two thoughts come to mind from this report. First, this is how the aid should have been distributed from the beginning. Instead of supporting terrorist organizations, and Fatah certainly qualifies in spades as one, we should have bypassed the ridiculous PA altogether and sent the aid directly to the people -- at least to the extent the PA allowed it to reach them. For too many years, we supported the Palestinian terror structure directly, and all we got in return were intifadas and, in one case, a direct attack on American diplomats in Gaza.
Second, and more importantly, the continuation of aid has kept the sanctions from doing their job. The idea of sanctions is to place pressure on a governmemt to change their policy, as well in this instance not to be seen funding terrorists. That pressure comes from the people who support the government -- and the Palestinian people clearly elected Hamas to govern them. Their privations ceased being our problem when they elected Islamist terrorists to run their government.
Their support for terrorists and terrorism, which is quite open and explicit, is the problem. If the West wants to change the situation in the territories, they have to begin by changing the attitude of the people. Instead, in 2006, they continued to support them while they supported Hamas, while Hamas conducted abductions of an Israeli soldier and allowed Islamic Jihad to launch continuous rocket attacks against Israel all year long.
I understand the impulse behind this -- the West wants to be seen as "nice", so that the sanctions don't seem aimed at the people. That may make sense in Iran, where the people are more pro-Western, and it certainly made sense in Iraq, even if the sanctions regime got so thoroughly corrupted. The Iraqis didn't elect Saddam Hussein to the position of Most Brutal Dictator. That's not the case with the Palestinian Authority, where the people freely elect terrorists of one stripe or another.
We're not going to stop terrorism by buying it off. All we do is pay for more terrorism. If the Palestinians do not explicitly renounce violence, agree to abide by prior agreements of the PA, and recognize Israel's right to exist, then we should stop all aid, and let the Palestinians fend for themselves.