Sometimes terror doesn't have to pay. Reports last week that Fatah Prime Minister Salaam Fayad had paid the annual salaries of members of Hamas's army in Gaza caused U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to shoot off a livid letter to Fayad.
Cantor, the third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, had just returned from leading a Republican Congressional delegation to Israel and the Palestinian Authority where he met with Fayad in Ramallah. He wrote: "Without further explanation from you, I will feel compelled … to forewarn my colleagues in the Congress that any visits with your government offer little value toward bringing peace and security to Palestinians and Israelis. Furthermore, I will help lead opposition in Congress to any proposed call for additional U.S. taxpayer dollars being sent to the P.A."
Cantor has good reason as an American to be angry at Fayad. Hamas forces in Gaza, which are trained and commanded by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, constitute a key member of the axis of global jihad against which the United States is fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world. By strengthening Hamas, Fayad is not simply harming Israel. He is acting in a manner that strengthens the axis as a whole. And so he is harming America's national security interests.
In defending his move, Fayad initially claimed that the payment was a regrettable error caused by a computer glitch. In his updated story, Fayad claimed that a Hamas agent in his Ministry of Finance was responsible for the move.
Fayad's excuses naturally raise the question: If Fatah opposes Hamas, why are all the names and bank account numbers of Hamas's soldiers conveniently located in their Ministry of Finance's computer files? Aside from that, it is hard to believe that Fayad objected to paying the jihad forces. Since Hamas took over Gaza in June, Fayad has regularly paid the salaries of Hamas legislators, civil servants in Hamas's government, and Hamas terrorists imprisoned in Israeli jails.
Moreover, Fayad's assertions that Fatah opposes Hamas are hardly believable given that Fatah is engaged in intense negotiations toward a reunification of their forces. Last week, P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas stated openly that he seeks to reconcile with Hamas.
The fact that Fatah is itself a jihadist terror group also helps explain why it has no problem paying the salaries of Hamas's terror army. The inconvenient truth of Fatah's commitment to terror was brought home again last week with Israel's indictment of Fatah legislator Jamal Tirawi. Tirawi is accused of dispatching the suicide bomber who blew up at the Coffee Shop cafe in Tel Aviv in March 2002. He is also accused of training and commanding other terrorists who carried out suicide and shooting attacks.
Ironically, as deputy commander of Fatah's General Intelligence militia, Tirawi held extensive contacts with U.S. Security Coordinator Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton and received American weapons. But, of course, America is not Fatah's primary victim.
The Israel Defense Forces know that Hamas today is a much more formidable foe than it ever was before: It fights much like Hezbollah, it has advanced arms and equipment and is organized in disciplined units. Since Fayad paid these forces with funds that Israel transferred to him, it could have been expected that the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would be joining Cantor in condemning him. But, in yet another sign of the government's strategic dementia, Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni rushed to Fayad's defense.
By supporting Rice's policy of appeasing Palestinian terrorists, Olmert and Livni ignore the fact that both Israel and the United States are treating the Palestinian jihad in a manner that completely contradicts the American strategy for contending with the forces of jihad everywhere else in the world.
Everywhere else in the world, the United States works to defeat terrorists and deny them control of territory. The fact that the current U.S.-Israeli policy toward Palestinian terrorists is antithetical to the overall strategy for fighting terror is reason enough to expect that many Americans believe Rice's support for Fatah and Palestinian statehood is a mistake.
Caroline Glick is a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.