Palestinian Authority Puts $330 Million Toward Paying Prisoners, Family of ‘Martyrs’

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas / Getty Images
December 19, 2018

The Palestinian Authority set aside $330 million in its 2018 budget to pay security prisoners and the families of terrorists who attacked Israel.

A report by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), citing the PA’s detailed budget, shows millions going to convicted terrorists and their families in the form of stipends and salaries, according to the Jerusalem Post. The portion of recipients who are convicted terrorists is a matter of debate.

Yossi Kuperwasser, the author of the JCPA report, told the Post that "99.9 percent of [security] prisoners are convicted terrorists." Back in 2007, however, an Israel Prisons Service pamphlet said a smaller number, about 70 percent, of Palestinian security prisoners "have blood on their hands."

Former PA Prisoner Affairs minister Ashraf al-Ajrami and Hassan Abed Rabbo, a spokesman for the PA Prisoners Affairs Commission, were both quoted in the Post saying the majority of prisoners were not violent. They blame Israel for how they "define" terrorist organizations and then imprison members.

Israel Prisons Services spokesman Assaf Liberati said 5,600 Palestinians are jailed in Israeli prisons.

Palestinian law entitles those imprisoned for "participating in the struggle against the occupation" to cash payments, saying they are "part and parcel of the Palestinian Arab community’s fabric." Many Israelis, however, consider this a form of incentivizing terrorism.

For the PA, "martyrs" include those killed carrying out terrorist attacks, as well as those killed by security forces or in conflicts with settlers and other Israelis.

Also this week, the United Nations and the PA made a joint appeal for $355 million, which drew outrage from Palestinian Media Watch.

"Instead of the UN asking donor countries to contribute $350 million to provide for Palestinian humanitarian needs, the UN should be joining the unequivocal call from many governments that the PA immediately stop squandering the $355 million dollars of its own funds on its ‘Pay for Slay’ policy that incentivizes and rewards terrorism, and instead spend that money on needy Palestinians," a Palestinian Media Watch report said.

This year Congress passed the Taylor Act to tighten oversight on aid to Palestinians to ensure Americans don’t fund terrorism. Then in the summer, the Trump administration cut $200 million in aid to the PA.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas has been a staunch defender of the "hero martyrs" convicted of terrorism in Israel. He said in July he’s committed to paying the prisoners and families even if it bankrupts them.

"We will not accept a cut or cancellation of salaries to the families of martyrs and prisoners, as some are trying to bring about," Abbas said.

"Even if we have only a penny left, we will give it to the martyrs, the prisoners and their families."

Published under: Palestinian Authority