Jason Greenblatt condemned the Palestinian Authority for choosing to pay terrorists rather than funding hospitals.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Jason Greenblatt, U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy, slammed the Palestinian Authority (PA) for ignoring its own people’s health needs in order to continue its policy of paying terrorists sitting in Israeli jails.
“The Palestinian Authority budget allocates far more for its ‘pay for slay program’ than the approximately $8 million a month that they owe the East Jerusalem hospitals,” he said in an interview published Sunday in Israel Hayom.
“If the Palestinian Authority did not prioritize payments to terrorists and their families, they could easily cover these health care costs,” he stated.
“Every Palestinian has the right to know that they are losing access to quality health care because the PA has decided its support to terrorists is more important,” he continued. “The U.S. did not cause the gap in the payments to the hospitals. The gap is caused by the years of using the PA’s money for this despicable program and other misuse of PA money. We will not pay into such a system.”
Greenblatt was responding in part to an Israeli reporter who asked him why the U.S. had stopped funding Palestinian hospitals in eastern Jerusalem.
The Trump administration slashed $25 million in such aid last September as part of a series of funding cuts to Palestinian causes that year, totaling hundreds of millions of dollars, which included all payments to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
At the time, one of the hospitals complained that it was in “a suffocating crisis,” both as a result of lack of financial aid “and the piling up of debts and funds held back by the Palestinian government.”
According to the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories Unit (COGAT), more than 20,000 Palestinians were given permits to either receive medical treatment themselves or support someone receiving treatment in Israel in 2018. Yet in March, the PA announced it would stop supporting citizens who needed medical aid in Israel.
This was in reaction to Israel’s February decision to deduct the amount of money the PA paid to terrorists from its monthly tax transfers to the Authority.
Greenblatt pulled no punches in describing what he said was the Palestinian leadership’s hypocrisy when it comes to taking care of their own.
“Despite the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to pay the health care bills of its own people, members of its senior leadership — even individuals who have threatened terror attacks on Israel – continue to receive treatment in Israeli hospitals,” he told the Israel daily. “This just goes to show the hypocrisy of the Palestinian Authority’s position.
US cannot be blamed
“Senior Palestinian officials and terrorists are taken care of, while ordinary Palestinians are put at risk. Anyone seeking to blame the United States for this situation needs to review the facts.”
Over recent years, the closest family members of top PA officials and even Hamas leaders have received treatment in Israeli hospitals. For example, in 2016, PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ brother benefited from cancer treatment in Assuta Medical Center in Tel Aviv, while his wife and brother-in-law were treated there in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was allowed to send his daughter and mother-in-law to Ichilov Hospital in 2014, right before and after that summer’s battle with the Gazan terrorist organization. Senior Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzuk’s sister also went there for cancer treatment that year.