Op-Ed in The Australian: ALP Policy will Enable “Pay for Slay” Killers

NEW YORK CITY – FEBRUARY 19 2018: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas appear on hand with the rest of the Palestinian UN delegation. (Photo: a katz /


JANUARY 8, 2019

The Australian Labor Party recently passed a motion at its national conference that “calls on the next Labor government to recognise Palestine as a state”. Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong, who introduced the motion, said: “We, in Labor, not only deal with the world as it is, we seek to change it for the better.” 

The proposed policy neither recognises “the world as it is” nor changes that reality “for the better”.

Instead, the motion provides much-coveted Western legitimacy for the Palestinian Authority, a non-state entity whose value system is at odds with that of Australia and indeed the entire liberal democratic world. As the international community marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the PA’s state-in-waiting is a brazen violator of the declaration’s most basic principles yet is being pre-emptively endorsed by Labor.

The PA should not be excused for being “flawed”. All states have flawed records, falling short of their declared principles to varying degrees. But the PA has not fallen short of its principles. It has acted with impressive ideological consistency in its promotion of terrorism and the promulgation of the most egregious forms of anti-Semitism.

These behaviours cannot be deemed even by foreign policy realists as “internal” matters of minimal consequence to Western interests. The events that charred humanity during the past century have amply demonstrated that the promotion of genocidal hatreds and terrorism is never exclusively a local concern.

The PA has a long, public and ignoble history of promoting Jew-hatred and venerating the most brutal of terrorist actions. The PA has created a culture in which Robert Bowers, the man accused of gunning down 11 Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue, would feel comfortable. The PA has insinuated anti-Semitism into every corner of its society. It has poisoned successive generations of its youth to seek martyrdom in the destruction of the Jews, whom Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas blames for instigating their own destruction during the Holocaust.

The PA not only promulgates the hatred of Jews; it also rewards those who kill them.

The families of about 6000 Palestinians convicted of terrorist crimes, or killed or wounded in the commission of terrorist attacks, are provided a monthly salary and other benefits by the PA under a policy dubbed “pay for slay”.

As noted in The Washington Post by Thane Rosenbaum of the New York University school of law, the PA “without apology or shame … is running a bounty system” in which supposed “lone wolves who perpetrate stabbings, shootings and car-rammings are not really acting alone — they are a people’s army recruited to kill by their government”.

The PA’s promotion of terrorism is not subtle. The payments are mandated by official PA policy and Ramallah’s 2018 budget publicly lists $335 million for this purpose. Palestinian Media Watch says the PA budgeted about 44 per cent of the foreign aid it anticipated receiving last year for such handouts to terrorists who, in some cases, have murdered multiple members of a single family.

Pay for slay stipulates that all terrorist acts against “legitimate” targets will be eligible for these benefits, and it specifically excludes criminal acts of a non-terrorist nature. Abbas has been clear that pay for slay is the PA’s budgeting priority, stating: “Even if we have only a penny left, it will only be spent on the families of the martyrs and the prisoners, and only afterwards will it be spent on the rest of the people.”

This policy goes further than rewarding terrorism; it encourages it. The extensive financial and entitlement benefits are calculated on an escalating scale of reward commensurate with the severity of the terrorist atrocity that was committed. Prospective terrorists know that the more “successful” the attack and the longer the prison sentence, the larger the payment and the greater the benefits.

Pay for slay is also unique in its targeted approach to terror financing. By stating in advance that it will pay, and thereby implicitly partner with, any Palestinian killer in a terrorist act, the PA essentially is transforming itself into the contractor for every terrorist act it rewards. Ordinarily, it is difficult for investigators and prosecutors to match a specific donation to a particular terrorist incident. But the dollars paid to terrorists under this program correspond to specific bullets and specific victims in every case.

Furthermore, when PA funds are doled out to members of a terrorist organisation such as Hamas, the PA is directly enabling that organisation by creating a billion-dollar safety net for the group’s members and freeing up its funding for other terrorist purposes.

Labor politicians should be holding the PA accountable for promoting terrorism. Regrettably, though, Labor’s motion does precisely the opposite. It legitimises the PA by transforming it from a non-state entity sponsoring murder into a full-blown state sponsor of terror with all the protections and privileges of sovereignty. By conferring unconditional recognition of statehood on the architects of this terror, Labor would be rendering the practice an unfortunate but ultimately acceptable proposition to be rewarded. This is unlikely to change the world “for the better”.

Australia has made so many significant contributions in the battle against terrorism. It should not become a partner in an organised terror enterprise that has destroyed thousands of lives.

Danny Eisen is co-founder of the Canadian Coalition Against Terror. Sheryl Saperia is a director of policy at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies.

First published in The Australian at: