JPOST: Palestinians slam congressman over call to impose sanctions on PA leaders

Palestinians on Sunday condemned Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado) for demanding that the US impose personal sanctions on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other senior PA officials.

In a letter to President Donald Trump, Lamborn wrote that the Palestinian leadership “has continued to pay the terror rewards to terrorists, spending hundreds of millions of dollars every year to these monsters and their families.”

Lamborn was involved in initiating the Taylor Force Act, which was signed into law by Trump in 2018. It conditions US direct aid to the PA on the abolition of the PA’s payment of cash rewards to terrorists and their families.

“Since the passing of the Taylor Force Act, and a similar law in Israel’s Knesset passed by my friends MKs Elazar Stern and Avi Dichter in July 2018, the Palestinian leadership has spent over NIS 1.2 billion, or $350 million, continuing to reward terror,” Lamborn wrote. “Since the Palestinian leadership have publicly attacked the passage of the Taylor Force Act, rejected its terms, and continue rewarding terrorists and their families, the appropriate next step in the US war on terror is to personally sanction those PA/PLO officials involved in this incentivizing of terror, as defined by the law. While there are many senior Palestinian officials involved in the ‘pay for slay’ program, the institution and the person most responsible are the PA/PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs and its Director Qadri Abu Bakr.”

In response, PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat condemned “the continuous American incitement against President Mahmoud Abbas and members of the Palestinian leadership.”

Lamborn’s demand to impose sanctions on Palestinian leaders “comes to punish the victim for rejecting the Trump-[Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu plan,” he said, referring to the US administration’s “Deal of the Century” vision for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Erekat dismissed the demand as “thuggery and blackmail” and said Israel would bear full responsibility for the Palestinians, if and when it implements its plan to apply sovereignty to portions of the West Bank.

“The Palestinian Authority was established to transfer our people from occupation to independence, and not as a tool for the continuation of the occupation,” he said.

Fatah officials said Lamborn’s call for imposing sanctions on Palestinian leaders “won’t deter the Palestinians from rejecting and foiling all schemes targeting the Palestinian issue.”

Lamborn’s call came in the context of US anti-Palestinian policies and measures, senior Fatah official Fayez Abu Aitah said.

“The positions of Congress have been similar to those of the Israeli government,” he said. “They are trying to exert pressure on the Palestinian leadership and our people to stop paying salaries to the families of prisoners and martyrs. By endorsing the positions of Israel, the US administration has joined those who are hostile to the Palestinian people.”

Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) said the “incitement against President Abbas and other Palestinian officials shows that some members of Congress are more Zionist than the state of occupation.”

Ahmed Mudallal, a senior PIJ official in the Gaza Strip, accused the US of “supporting the Zionist enemy and complicity in its crimes against the Palestinian people.” The US, he said, “was never an honest broker, but an enemy of the Palestinian people and other people in the region.”

Mudallal said the “Zionist enemy and the US administration must know that the issue of the prisoners is the issue of all Palestinians, who are united in seeing the prisoners and martyrs as symbols of our revolution and struggle.”

The PLO’s Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) said the call to impose sanctions on Palestinian leaders was “impudent.”

“This disgraceful call is in the context of rejected pressure to surrender to American policies aiming to liquidate the Palestinian cause and the national rights of our people,” it said.

The DFLP called on the Palestinian leadership to respond to the call by renouncing all agreements with Israel, including the Oslo Accords, and launching a “comprehensive national resistance against the occupation and settlements.”