State Department Official Gives Incorrect Testimony on Palestinian Payments to Terrorists
Anne W. Patterson, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, gave incorrect testimony to Congress about Palestinian Authority salaries to terrorists, according to a report compiled by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW). In her testimony to Congress, Patterson defended the Palestinian Authority practice of paying salaries to terrorists in prison by saying that “they have to provide for the families.”
But Patterson disregarded explicit documentation proving that this claim is incorrect. According to PA law, and in practice, the PA does not give stipends to terrorist prisoners’ families, but gives salaries to the terrorist prisoners themselves. This would seem to indicate that the salaries serve as an incentive for the terrorists and are not welfare payments.
According to PMW, the PA Minister of Prisoners vocally rejected the claim that the payments come as social welfare aid to the prisoners’ families, saying that the prisoners receive salaries “out of esteem.”
When questioned, Patterson said the PA was phasing out these payments. But there are no activities or statements of the PA to back up that claim. To the contrary, in 2013 and 2014, PA officials have regularly added additional regulations and benefits for prisoners.
At a government meeting earlier this month, PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said the PA places “prisoners at the top of its priorities” and said that the PA will continue to implement the “Prisoners’ and Released (Prisoners’) Law” – which specifically refers to salaries and other payments to prisoners.
Asked why the U.S. has not acted on the issue despite knowing about it for a long time, Assistant Secretary Patterson said: “I think, one, it is a political issue for the Palestinians, that these people are in jail, they have to provide for the families, and again I think they plan to phase it out.”
Excerpts from Assistant Secretary Patterson’s testimony can be seen here.