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What the Palestinian Authority tells its people is different from what it tells the international community

What the Palestinian Authority tells its people is different from what it tells the international community

By Mary Reichard | 29/2/2024



REICHARD: What does the shakeup mean for the war in Gaza? Joining us now to talk about it is Itamar Marcus. He’s the founder and director of the Israel-based organization, Palestinian Media Watch.

Itamar, thanks for joining us!

ITAMAR MARCUS, GUEST: Thank you very much for inviting me.

REICHARD: Tell us a little bit about Palestinian Media Watch and how it operates.

MARCUS: Media Watch was founded in 1996. It was three years after the establishment of the Palestinian Authority. And we wanted to know what they were saying in their internal world. We knew what they were telling the media and what they were telling negotiators and what they were telling people in Washington. We wanted to know what they were telling their own people. And in particular, we wanted to know what they were telling the children, because we believe that the messages to Palestinian children are the authentic and honest messages. And what we’ve learned during these years is there are two different messages. There’s the messages for the international community and their messages to their people. And if you want to know what the Palestinians want and care about don’t listen to what they tell you, listen to what they say to their people and their children.

REICHARD: And what are Palestinian leaders saying to their people and their children?

MARCUS: There’s a great myth in the international community that the Palestinian Authority wants to have a state beside Israel. They tell their own people that the process that they’re involved in right now is a temporary process. It’s a stages process. One of the top Palestinian leaders—his name is Abbas Saki—once said, on TV, “We tell the world that we want Israel to go back to the 1967 borders, because everyone knows Israel cannot survive those borders.” To the world the PA says they are against terror to their own people, they absolutely glorify terror. I’ll just give you one example. You’re talking about the Prime Minister Mohammad Shteyyeh who’s resigning. Last year, an Israeli woman and her two daughters were murdered in the drive-by shooting. A month later, Israel tracked down the terrorists and killed them. That very day Prime Minister Shteyyeh put a picture of the terrorists on his Facebook page. And he wrote the words, “Glory and honor to righteous martyrs.” So he was saying that this act of murdering a mother of two daughters in a drive-by shooting was something to be glorified and honor. That’s the Palestinian Authority. So that’s a message they’ll never give in Washington or in Brussels, but to their own people that’s a consistent message. When Israel has no right to exist, and even essentially Jews have no right to exist, if you kill them you’re a Palestinian hero.

REICHARD: Well, now we’ve had this leadership shake-up in the Palestinian Authority with the Prime Minister, resigning. Why is that significant?

MARCUS: Israel has been saying we will not accept Palestinian Authority rule in Gaza, and for very good reason. The Palestinian Authority, as I said, teaches and educates, denies Israel’s right to exist, glorifies killers, pays rewards to killers. So Israel has said we won’t have the PA. The United States come back and said, “Okay, how about a revitalized or changed or reformed the PA.” What the PA is trying to do here is pretend that they have changed, pretend that they are revitalized. And then come to the United States and say, “Look, we’ve changed all of the bureaucrats and all the ministers who run our government.” In fact, as long as the PA and Hamas continue to pull the strings of those administrators, it doesn’t matter who’s paying the checks to the teachers. It matters who’s putting the content in the school books, and the Palestinian Authority has not yet given any indication that they’re willing to really reformed themselves in terms of their essence. So I hope the United States isn’t fooled by this masquerade of the PA and they tell them, “Listen, that is secondary, what we want to have is a fundamental change. Stop rewarding terrorists, glorifying terrorists, telling your people and your children that Israel has a right to exist, and then we’ll have someone we can talk to.”

REICHARD: Itamar, how does the PA reward terrorists?

MARCUS: In 2004, the Palestinian Authority passed a law which they called the Prisoners Law, under which every terrorist who ends up in Israeli prison from the days arrested starts receiving a Palestinian Authority salary. The longer he’s in prison, or she, the higher the salary goes, eventually reaching 12,000 shekels a month, which is about $3,500 a month, which is approximately three times the average Palestinian Authority salary. So the best paid people in the Palestinian Authority are those people who’ve murdered Israelis and spent a long time in jail. And they get these incredibly high monthly salaries. In addition, every terrorist who’s killed in the act of fighting Israelis, their family receives a 6,000 shekel, or I would say close to $2,000 stipend, and then they receive 1,400 shekels or about $600 a month for the rest of their lives. So a PA is spending $350 million a year to reward terror directly. Any country that’s funding the Palestinian Authority is paying for this. The Americans for years and the Europeans are going through some kind of denial and claiming, “Oh, it’s not our money.” But it’s clear that when you’re dealing with electronic money, and we are dealing with budgets like today, when the PA is spending 350 million and the United States is giving them 350 million, the United States is facilitating those payments to terrorists in prison.

REICHARD: Itamar, what can we expect if the PA takes over Gaza after the war?

MARCUS: If the PA takes over Gaza after the war, within a few years, assuming they also have security control, we’ll have hundreds of kilometers of tunnels again, we’ll have armed groups, we’ll have people planning to do exactly what was done on October 7. The reason why October 7 has happened in the Gaza Strip, and not in the West Bank, is because Israel has been going into the Palestinian cities. And every time terrorists from Hamas or from the Palestinian Authority or Fatah organize themselves, Israel has been capturing them or killing them. Because we have the proximity, we’ve not let them organize to create this kind of terror. The motivation for the terrorists in the West Bank was just as great as the motivation in Gaza. And had they had the opportunity to build up an infrastructure they would have done the same thing. If we go and give the PA back Gaza again and the United States insists, and Israel complies and takes its forces out, within a couple of years, we will be back exactly where we were on October 6.

REICHARD: Itamar Marcus is the founder and director of Palestinian Media Watch based in Israel. Itamar, thank you for your time.

MARCUS: Thank you.




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