By Lea Speyer
The head of a Jerusalem-and Washington, DC-based research organization revealed specifics on Tuesday of the “significant sums” allocated by the Palestinian Authority to incarcerated and dead terrorists and their families.
Yigal Carmon, president and founder of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), revealed the shocking details during testimony he submitted to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. In his statement, Carmon demonstrated the ways in which the PA supports those deemed to be “martyrs.”
He also said that $137.8 million of the PA’s 2016 budget will be used for “underwriting the expenses of the prisoners and their families.” Some $173 million has been set aside to provide what the PA says is “a dignified life to the families of all those martyred and wounded as a result of being participants or bystanders in the revolution.”
According to Carmon, payments for imprisoned terrorists, and the families of suicide bombers are anchored in a set of laws in the Palestinian legal system.
“The prisoners are described as ‘a fighting sector and an integral part of the weave of Arab Palestinian society’ and it is stated that ‘the financial rights of the prisoner and his family’ must be assured. It is also stated that the PA will provide the allowance to ‘every prisoner, without discrimination,’” Carmon explained.
As such, the PA government currently doles out monthly allowances based on an imprisoned terrorist’s length of sentence.
“These payments range from $364 a month for up to three years imprisonment to $3,120 for 30 years and more,” Carmon said. “There is a $78 supplement for terrorists from Jerusalem and a $130 supplement for Arab Israeli terrorists. The PA also provides prisoners with a monthly allowance for canteen expenses, totaling $780,000 per month.”
For the kin of suicide bombers — according to the latest information available from 2011 — Carmon said each family “receives a one-time payment of $1,560, as well as a monthly allowance of $364. There are also additional payments based on various criteria, including personal status – the family of a married martyr receives an additional $104, and if he has children, the family receives $52 per child -– whether the martyr was a civilian or a member of the PA military force, and on his or her rank.”
The payments pose a “persistent problem” and renege on a promise made by the late PLO chief Yasser Arafat to stop them, Carmon maintained. “By providing this support, the PA is encouraging terrorism in violation of its Oslo commitment.”
In addition, since “the PA has been using money granted by donor countries for this purpose” — a fact that has been largely ignored by several countries — the international community is “complicit in encouraging terrorism as well,” he said.
In 2014, in response to criticism, PA President Mahmoud Abbas issued a presidential order announcing payments to prisoners would no longer go through the PA, but rather via the PLO Commission for Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs.
According to Carmon, “The aim of this deliberately misleading move was to alleviate pressure on the PA by donor countries that do not wish their money to be channeled to support terrorism. However, the offices remained the same and the official in charge remained the same under a new job title. The source of the money remains the PA, which receives them from donor countries, and the overseeing body remains none other than the PA.”
Carmon’s testimony came amid moves by members of Congress to curb loopholes in US law that enable inadvertent funding of Palestinian terrorism through annual US aid to the PA.
A Senate subcommittee recently approved the insertion of specific language into the 2017 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill, which would cut aid to the Palestinians based on the amount “expended by the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization and any successor or affiliated organizations, as payments for acts of terrorism by individuals who are imprisoned after being fairly tried and convicted for acts of terrorism, and by individuals who died committing acts of terrorism during the previous calendar year.”
(c) 2016 The Algemeiner Journal