Senior officials at Palestinian autocrat Mahmoud Abbas’ office said the decision was part of Abbas’ sworn ‘policies of rejectionism,’ crafted in response to President Trump’s policies on Jerusalem.
• In 2017, the PA spent $358 million for “pay to slay” to the families of terrorists killed or jailed for carrying out attacks against Israel.
By Daniel Siryoti and Shlomo Cesana
The Palestinian Authority announced Wednesday that it will begin making direct payments to terrorists imprisoned in Israel, despite the United States’ efforts to curb what has been criticized as “pay to slay” benefits.
Last week, the U.S. government passed the Taylor Force Act, which suspends some financial aid to the Palestinian Authority over the stipends it pays the families of terrorists killed or jailed for carrying out attacks against Israel.
In 2017, the PA spent $358 million on payments to terrorists and their families, 7% of its total budget for the year.
Senior officials at Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ office told Israel Hayom the move was part of his stated policies of rejectionism, crafted over the growing rift between Ramallah and Washington following U.S. President Donald Trump’s Dec. 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“Abbas was very clear. No one is going to go hungry because the Americans stopped aid payments,” one official said. “We will do what it takes for the Palestinian people. The interests motivating the Trump administration and the Israeli government are of no concern to Abbas.”
Qadura Fares, the chairman of the Palestinian Prisoners Society, told Israel Hayom Wednesday that the stipends “are not wages. These are payments meant to ensure that the families of jailed Palestinians can make ends meet.”
“There are women and children who have been left without a primary breadwinner. What are we, as Palestinians, supposed to do? Let them starve?” he said.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Media Watch, an Israel-based watchdog that studies Palestinian society through its media and schoolbooks, found that the Palestinian Authority’s 2018 budget contains substantial allocations for “pay to slay” stipends.
According to the PMW’s website, the PA’s total operating budget stands at $4.76 billion, $158 million of which have been appropriated for payments to terrorists and their families.
This amounts to 7.47% of the total operating budget and 44% of anticipated foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority, the group said.
Responding to the Palestinian pledge, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman tweeted Wednesday that “Abbas, the terrorism sponsor, has shown his true colors.”
“We will deduct the salaries that Abbas is paying terrorists [from taxes Israel collects on behalf of the PA] and we will put a stop to this,” Lieberman added.
Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon echoed the defense minister, saying, “Abbas reveals his true intentions when he finances the murder of Israeli civilians using hundreds of millions of blood-stained dollars.”
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