WASHINGTON — The Palestinian Authority continues to take proactive measures to prevent terrorism while Hamas inflames and practices terror, a new US report noted Thursday.
The State Department’s annual survey of global terrorism said that despite the presence of Palestinian terror groups in both the West Bank and Gaza, which continued to threaten Israel, the PA was cooperating with its Israeli counterparts to tamp down violence.
The report comes amid ongoing tension between the US and the PA, over Palestinian anger at the Trump administrations recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the subsequent moving of the embassy there from Tel Aviv.
A Palestinian boycott of administration officials was met with the US slashing aid to Ramallah until the PA agrees to return to negotiations. On Thursday, the US again slammed the Palestinians for their payments to the families of terrorists.
Despite this, the report found that the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority “continued its counter-terrorism and law enforcement efforts in the West Bank.”
In contrast, Hamas, the Islamist terror group that rules Gaza, launched rockets into Israel, continued its practice of building tunnels to sneak terrorists into Israel and sought to smuggle weaponry into the battered coastal enclave through the Sinai.
“The United States assisted the PA’s counter-terrorism efforts by providing training, equipment, and infrastructure support to the [PA Security Forces],” the report says. “US training and support assisted in the PA’s continued development of professional, self-sufficient, and capable security forces.”
Yet the report noted that such cooperation was not possible with Hamas.
“Several militant groups launched rocket attacks against Israel from Gaza,” the report says. “The primary limitation on PA counter-terrorism efforts in Gaza remained Hamas’ control of the area and the resulting inability of the PASF to operate there.”
The PA and the Palestine Liberation Organization, however, both provide “martyr payments” to the families of Palestinians killed while conducting terrorist acts, the report said.
“These payments and separate canteen stipends that the Israeli government allows for prisoners were first initiated by the PLO in 1965 and have continued under the PA since the Oslo Accords with Israel,” the survey says.
The report also noted settler violence inflicted against Palestinians over the last year: “Israelis, including settlers, committed acts of violence, including ‘price tag’ attacks (property crimes and violent acts by extremist Jewish individuals and groups against Palestinians) in the West Bank in 2017.”
Overall, the report said that the number of terrorist attacks in Israel and the Golan Heights has declined since 2015, but Israel still “experienced numerous terrorist attacks, including those committed by lone actors with no clear affiliation to terrorist organizations.”
The latest report maintained a change instituted by the Trump administration to no longer refer to the West Bank and Gaza as “occupied territories” or “the Palestinian territories.” Instead, they are referred as “West Bank and Gaza.”
The report noted that rocket attacks from Gaza followed President Donald Trump’s announcing he would move the US embassy in Jerusalem last year, and the subsequent opening of the embassy in May.
Since assuming office, the Trump administration has made a high priority of brokering an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. Their efforts to bring both sides to the table has faltered since Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The PA leadership has refused to engage with Trump officials, saying they forfeited their right to act as honest mediators.
The White House peace team — led by Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and special envoy Jason Greenblatt — have been working on the highly anticipated proposal, and are now in the process of planning its roll out.