MOSTYN: Court speaks on Palestinian “Pay for Slay,” and Ottawa must take heed

Author of the article: Michael Mostyn Publishing date:Dec 29, 2020  •  Last Updated 6 hours ago  •  2 minute read

Storm clouds pass by the Peace tower and Parliament Hill on Aug. 18, 2020. Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS /Toronto Sun

Like a bolt from the blue, Canada’s Federal Court issued a stunning rebuke to the Palestinian Authority in December.

It all started out as a run-of-the-mill immigration case, but its effects could — and should — be far-reaching.

Khitam Khudeish, a long-time employee of the Palestinian Embassy in Baghdad, came to Canada in September of 2016, claiming refugee status on the basis of religious persecution.

Our country’s tribunals and courts review thousands of similar cases each year.

This case, however, was different.

It turned out that, for 22 years, Khudeish had been doling out funds on behalf of the PLO through its “Palestine Martyrs’ Families Foundation” (PMFF.)

The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration became involved, suggesting that by aiding the PMFF, Khudeish made herself ineligible for refugee status under article 1(f) of the Refugee Convention, which bars those engaged in crimes against humanity — including terrorism.

The Minister argued — and the tribunal and Court agreed — that the PMFF exists for the primary purpose of encouraging terrorism against Israeli civilians.

Indeed, known more colloquially as “pay for slay,” the PMFF provides surviving terrorists and their immediate family with generous stipends, far in excess of the average Palestinian wage.

The Court affirmed that the PMFF “was created by the PLO to fulfill the criminal purpose of incentivising acts of terrorism against Israelis,” and even added that “the PLO had a criminal purpose.” The refugee claim was denied.

The Government of Canada cannot hide from this unambiguous result.

It is fond of saying that “Canada is a friend and ally of the State of Israel, and a friend of the Palestinian people,” but what sort of friend pays its people to murder the citizens of an ally?

One wonders whether friendship of this sort is, or should be, sustainable.

It is certainly inconsistent with any notion of a rules-based international order.

In March of 2018, the United States adopted the Taylor Force Act, named after an American victim of Palestinian terrorism, which blocks American aid to the Palestinian Authority until the PLO ends pay for slay.

(The Palestinian Authority is practically synonymous with the PLO, and Mahmoud Abbas chairs both.)

Australia and the Netherlands followed suit.

Since 2013, Canada has redirected its aid to the Palestinians away from the Palestinian Authority and toward independent NGOs and UNRWA instead  — though those options also have their pitfalls.

Still, Canada must make its voice heard against the evils of pay for slay.

Firstly, Canada should designate the PMMF as a terrorist entity under the Criminal Code, to ensure that none of its funds reach terrorist relatives residing in this country.

Secondly, Canada should publicly clarify that it will never restore aid to the Palestinian Authority, the PLO or any of their institutions until pay for slay is abandoned.

Thirdly and finally, if pay for slay is not quickly brought to a close, Canada should consider downgrading the status of the Palestinian General Delegation in Ottawa.

Normal diplomacy is simply not possible with those who distribute cash incentives for murder and terrorism.

The Palestinian pay for slay program is a blight upon the Middle East, ironically continuing even as Arab states rush to normalize relations with Israel. To safeguard its principles, Canada must act against pay for slay.

— Michael Mostyn is the Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada

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