“This issue is not subject to US-Israeli extortion,” a leading Palestinian official said regarding pressure on the PA to stop funding terror.
Since its establishment, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been paying stipends to Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli jails, both past and present, as well as to the wounded and the families of individuals “martyred,” or killed, while carrying out attacks against Israelis.
Recently, the PA has come under pressure to stop these payments. During PA head Mahmoud Abbas’ visit to the White House in May, the Trump administration demanded that the PA stop making these payments.
Likewise, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently confirmed that the issue of stopping the payments had been discussed between US President Trump and Abbas.
Last week, Tillerson told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that during his visit to Bethlehem in late May, PA officials had assured him that, together with the PLO, they had “changed their policy… and their intent is to cease the payments to the family members of those who have committed murder or violence against others… We’ve been very clear with them that this is simply is not acceptable to us.”
Israel, too, has for some time been calling on the PA to stop paying these stipends, saying it encourages continued terrorism. Just recently, the Knesset discussed a bill to deduct the sum of the allowances to the prisoners and families of terrorists from the tax revenues that Israel collects and hands over to the PA every month.
The calls for stopping the allowances to prisoners are opposed by PA and PLO officials, who vowed that they will not be stopped and that support for the terrorists is “a clear national duty.”
‘We Will in No Way Compromise’
The PA has continually stressed the importance it ascribes to this issue, and Abbas has often reiterated that “the prisoners are the number one priority.” In accordance with this commitment, the PA invests immense sums for the prisoners and their families.
The head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, Issa Qaraqe, said that the PA allowances to the terrorists mark “a red line and a fundamental principle on which we will in no way compromise.”
Qaraqe also criticized US administration officials, saying that their announcements on the subject of the allowances constituted “US-Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people and the PA.”
Additionally, “senior Palestinian sources” told the Al-Quds daily that Tillerson’s statements were incorrect.
Qaraqe insisted that the PA ” will continue paying the families of the martyrs and prisoners and will not succumb to Israeli pressure. We will continue aiding them, for they are victims of the occupation.”
PLO Executive Committee member Ahmad Majdalani refuted the US officials’ statements. “The [Palestinian] leadership has not complied [with the demand] to stop the allowances of the prisoners, martyrs, and wounded,” he stated. “Even if there were [such an] American demand, that does not mean that the PA would comply with it. This issue is not subject to US-Israeli extortion… Our duty to pay the allowances to the families of the martyrs, the wounded, and the prisoners is moral, national, and social, and it is a red line that no one will cross.”