Elliott Abrams addressed the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, focusing on the pressing issue of the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) payments for acts of terrorism. Abrams, a seasoned diplomat, presented a series of recommendations aimed at curbing the PA’s detrimental “pay for slay” system and fostering accountability on an international scale.
Abrams is an expert on Middle Eastern studies and is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in Washington, DC, brought a wealth of experience to the table, having served in notable positions during the administrations of President George W. Bush and President Donald Trump. In these roles, he supervised U.S. policy in the Middle East for the White House and later served as Special Representative for Iran and Venezuela.
Abrams was unequivocal in his assessment, stating, “It’s clear that Iran is making an effort to get more money and weapons to terrorists in the West Bank.” He further highlighted the role of Hamas in increasing terrorism against Israelis, emphasizing that “Hamas is trying hard to increase terrorism against Israelis in the West Bank and Jerusalem.”
Highlighting the Issue at the United Nations
With his extensive background in Middle Eastern policy, Abrams emphasized the critical role of the United States in bringing the issue of PA’s incentivizing terror to the forefront of international discourse. He urged the United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations to use the country’s influence to spotlight this grave concern and to rally other Member States to apply pressure on the Palestinian Authority to cease such payments immediately.
“I do not believe this is being done,” Abrams declared, calling on the Subcommittee to seek answers from Secretary Blinken and Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield on the apparent lack of action to address this issue at the United Nations.
Encouraging Donor Countries to Cease Direct Support
Another pivotal recommendation from Abrams was directed towards donor countries providing budgetary assistance to the Palestinian Authority. He strongly encouraged these nations to halt direct budgetary support until tangible steps are taken by the PA to stop all payments incentivizing terror.
“There are many ways to support the Palestinian people, of which giving cash to the inefficient, ineffective, and corrupt PA is one of the worst,” Abrams asserted. He expressed concern that the Biden administration might not be fully aligned with this stance, citing instances where it seemed to encourage other nations, including Saudi Arabia, to continue financial support to the PA.
A Call for Accountability and Action
Elliott Abrams’s testimony was a resounding call for increased accountability and decisive action against the PA’s practices that incentivize terrorism. “The message to Palestinian society is clear: terrorists are heroes,” he remarked, emphasizing the need for a shift in policy and public opinion.
His recommendations underscored the need for a united front, both nationally and internationally, to address this issue effectively and ensure that aid to the Palestinian people is used for their welfare and not to perpetuate violence.
“The Taylor Force Act continues to constitute effective pressure against the unacceptable pay to slay system,” Abrams noted, highlighting the importance of continued vigilance and monitoring of U.S. assistance to Palestinians.
The Subcommittee’s response to Abrams’s recommendations will be instrumental in shaping the future approach towards the Palestinian Authority and its practices, with the ultimate goal of fostering peace and stability in the region.