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Friday, December 02, 2011

Your tax dollars at work: US continues to subsidize Hamas

Barack Hussein Obama is often compared to former President Jimmy Carter. And with good reason. The Obama administration is continuing to pursue Carteresque policies, especially when it comes to the Middle East. Evelyn Gordon lists some of the ways in which the Obama administration is subsidizing Hamas operations in the Gaza Strip.
In their letter to Dodaro last week, Congressmen Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Steve Israel (D-NY) voiced concern over Abbas’s recently announced plans to build new homes for each of the 1,027 terrorists freed in exchange for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit​ and to give them $5,000 cash grants. As the letter correctly noted, many of those freed were convicted of attacks that collectively killed hundreds of Israeli civilians, and paying terrorists is an inappropriate use of U.S. funds.

Nor are the sums involved chump change. The cash grants alone would cost $5.1 million, and the housing would cost much more: If we assume a price of some $40,300 per house (based on the average Palestinian monthly rent of $210 multiplied by Moody’s long-term average ratio of sale prices to annual rent), it would total $41 million.

Moreover, the congressmen neglected to mention Abbas’s third cash-for-terrorists program: monthly salaries for convicted terrorists still in prison, ranging from roughly $400 to $3,450 depending on the length of the sentence (the longer the sentence –meaning the more heinous the crime – the higher the salary). Multiplying the midpoint of this sliding scale ($1,925) by some 4,200 prisoners (B’Tselem’s figure from the end of August minus those included in the Shalit deal), this comes to $8.1 million a month, or $97 million a year – without including the program’s additional costly benefits, such as free health insurance and university tuition for released prisoners who served at least five years (three for women). Altogether, therefore, Abbas plans to lavish hundreds of millions of dollars in aid money on terrorists.

But all this, outrageous though it is, isn’t where the real money lies. The real money, according to Store’s data, is what the PA spends on subsidizing Hamas. Specifically, the PA has spent more than $4 billion since 2008 – over half the international aid it received – to pay salaries for government employees in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and cover Gaza’s water and electricity bills.
Money is fungible. You can't provide money to Fatah - and Fatah cannot provide money to Hamas - and pretend that these goals have nothing to do with that money. Every dollar that the Obama administration gives Hamas via Fatah for salaries, electricity, water or anything else is a dollar that Hamas can use for terror without depriving its population of basic living needs. And you're paying for it.

What could go wrong?

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