The Palestinians are seeking a way to tell the US they are not paying terrorists – while continuing to pay terrorists.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) is planning once again to hide its approximately $300 million a year in payments to terrorist prisoners and the families of socalled “Martyrs,” i.e. terrorists killed during their attacks. Its strategy is to continue rewarding terror, but in a different framework, according to several Palestinian sources.
The first time the PA did this was in 2014, when it closed the PA Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs. The payments, originally paid through that ministry, continued through the PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs. Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), a watchdog that monitors Palestinian incitement and education to hatred, exposed the deception
PA law mandating salaries to terrorists has been repeatedly condemned by the US and countries in Europe.
Now, with increasing pressure by the US and other donor countries for the PA to stop rewarding terror, the PA is looking for a new way to accept the international demands while continuing to pay terrorists, PMW reports.
Hassan Asfour, a former PA minister, explained how this could be done earlier this month in a discussion with Fatah Voice, an independent Palestinian news website.
“Abbas, despite his initial objection [to the US demand to stop prisoner salary payments], has begun to examine practical options to comply with the American demand in a way that would not lead to an explosion that might lead to his downfall and the downfall of their [Abbas’ and US’] joint plan. Among these options that are being examined with special secrecy is the option of transferring the prisoners’ and Martyrs’ salaries to a ‘social insurance’ body so that it would appear as ‘humanitarian and social aid to needy families’ rather than ‘monthly salaries to fighter families,’” Asfour said.
Hamas website Al-Risalah quoted “reliable” sources that the PA was planning to have the Ministry of Interior take over the paying of salaries to terrorists.
PLO Commissioner of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Karake “denied knowing” of such a plan, Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported Sunday.
Reuters reported last week about discussions on how to issue the payments in a different way, rather than putting an end to the practice. One suggestion was to drop the word “Martyr” from the records.
Meanwhile, Qadura Fares, chairman of the PA-funded Prisoners’ Club, denied there would be any changes. The Al-Ayyam daily reported last week that Fares “emphasized that there is a Palestinian consensus that opposes any conditioning concerning this ‘noble and fighter’ group.”
Fares said he had no knowledge of new orders regarding “harming the salaries of the prisoners and the Martyrs’ families.”
“We are not aware that any decision of this sort has been made,” he stressed.
PA head Mahmoud Abbas is facing a difficult dilemma, PMW points out. In 2011, he personally raised the salaries to terrorist prisoners significantly, and PA leaders have repeatedly stated that rewarding the prisoners is fundamental PA policy.
Abbas has also refused to condemn Palestinian terror. Indeed, the PA, as policy, routinely honors terrorists.
On the other hand, Abbas wants the international community to see him as a peace-promoting moderate, which is not possible if he continues to honor and reward terror.