Biden Admin Hails 'Revitalized' Palestinian Authority. But New Ministers Support Murder of Jews.

Muna Al Khalili/Muhammad Mustafa Najem (Via Palestinian Authority)
April 1, 2024

The White House on Friday welcomed the formation of a new Palestinian Authority government, suggesting the West Bank-based PA was on track to take over administration of Gaza from Hamas.

President Joe Biden's administration "looks forward to working with the new cabinet," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement. "A revitalized PA is essential to delivering results for the Palestinian people in both the West Bank and Gaza and establishing the conditions for stability in the broader region," Miller added.

However, at least two of the newly installed PA ministers have advocated Palestinian terrorism against Jews.

Women’s affairs minister Muna al-Khalili defended "the Palestinian people’s right to resist the occupation" in the days following Hamas's Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel and rallied for the release of "heroic" Palestinian mass murderers. Years earlier, al-Khalili praised an infamous Palestinian terror attack—in which 38 civilians, including 13 Israeli children and an American photographer, were killed— as a "quality resistance operation."

Muhammad Mustafa Najem, the minster of religion, delivered a sermon two decades ago urging Palestinians to "afflict the Jews with the worst torment." He also said Jews are "apes and pigs."

The comments provide further reason for skepticism, already widespread, including among Palestinians, that the PA can be meaningfully reformed. Israel and many of its supporters reject the Biden administration’s insistence that the PA must administer Gaza following the Israel-Hamas war—pointing to the authority’s decades-long role in stoking violent hatred of Jews and the Jewish state among Palestinians via education, media, and generous salaries for terrorists and their families.

"What're we're seeing with these ministers is that the PA, in its essence, is the same terrorist-supporting entity it has always been," Itamar Marcus, the director of Palestinian Media Watch, an Israeli watchdog group that unearthed the remarks on Sunday, told the Washington Free Beacon. "The United States has to change its message. It can't just be transparency and and less corruption. It has to be zero support for terror—no support before the fact and no rewarding and glorifying it after the fact. If they're not going to insist on that, then the entire hope of having a PA that will be peaceful is going to be ruined right away."

Marcus dismissed news reports on Friday, sourced to unnamed Biden administration officials, that the United States was close to a deal that would see the PA end its payments for terrorism. Palestinian Media Watch a decade ago exposed a purported reform of the program, known as "pay for slay," as a deception, and since Oct. 7, the authority has doubled down, the Free Beacon reported. According to Marcus, the PA would lose what little legitimacy it has left with the Palestinian public if it stopped the payments.

"They may call them pensions, they may call them social welfare for the prisoners, but they're going to continue paying the terrorists exactly as much as they do today—which is way, way more than they pay families in need," Marcus said.

PA officials have long defended "pay for slay" as a form of social welfare and compensation for victims of Israel’s military justice system in the West Bank.

Requests for comment from the White House, the State Department, and PA leader Mahmoud Abbas's office went unanswered.

Al-Khalili, in her previous role as the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization's women's union, said in an Oct. 26 speech that the Palestinian people have a "right to resist the occupation" and "there will be no peace or stability in the entire region and the world without the Palestinian people receiving its legitimate rights."

Less than two weeks earlier, al-Khalili led a General Union of Palestinian Women rally demanding the release of some of the masterminds of the second intifada, a wave of Palestinian terrorism that killed more than 1,000 Israelis, the vast majority of them civilians. "Freedom for the heroic prisoner" read placards featuring images of the terrorists, including Ibrahim Hamed, a Hamas leader who is serving 54 life sentences for the murder of 46 civilians.

In 2018, al-Khalili spoke at an event honoring Dalal Mughrabi, a female terrorist who carried out the 1978 Coastal Road massacre along with other members of Fatah, now the PA's ruling party. The bus hijacking was the deadliest act of Palestinian terrorism prior to Oct. 7.

"We are gathering today 40 years after the quality resistance operation that 20-year-old Martyr Dalal Mughrabi led at the head of a squad of self-sacrificing fighters, and she proved that Palestinian women are capable of carrying out the most difficult missions," al-Khalili said, according to the official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida.

Najem, an Islamic leader, in a 2002 sermon on official PA TV, called for Muslims to terrorize Jews, whom he said the Koran warns are "characterized by conceit, pride, arrogance, rioting, disloyalty, and treachery." He said Allah had turned Jews into "apes and pigs" and condemned them to "the worst torment."

"O servants of Allah, be the ones through which Allah will afflict the Jews with the worst torment," Najem said. "Allah, grant us victory over the Jews and those who side with them! Allah, grant us victory over the Jews and the patrons of the Jews’ arrogance!"

The Palestinian Authority has avoided condemning the atrocities of Oct. 7 during which Palestinian terrorists from Gaza killed more than 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and took 253 hostage. Some 130 Israelis have remained captive in Gaza, not all of them alive.