US Jewish Leaders Lambaste PA President Mahmoud Abbas Over Continued Support for Terror Payments
The umbrella group that represents leading Jewish organizations in the US issued on Thursday a stinging rebuke to Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas for his defiant confirmation that the policy of so-called “martyr payments” — monthly donations to approximately 35,000 families of imprisoned Palestinian terrorists that are higher than the average wage in the PA — will not be halted.
“We are appalled by widespread media reports that President Abbas and other officials of the Palestinian Authority have recently made statements in Palestinian social and other media reaffirming their commitment to continue payments exceeding $300 million annually to reward terrorists and their families for attacking and killing Israelis,” Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Chairman Stephen M. Greenberg and Executive Vice Chairman and CEO Malcolm Hoenlein said in a joint statement.
Earlier this week, the Israeli monitoring organization Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) highlighted a statement in Abbas’s name on the Facebook page of the PA, in which the 82 year-old Palestinian leader said he would not bend on the issue, even if it cost him his job.
“Even if I will have to leave my position, I will not compromise on the salary (rawatib) of a martyr (Shahid) or a prisoner, as I am the president of the entire Palestinian people, including the prisoners, the martyrs, the injured, the expelled, and the uprooted,” Abbas said.
Another PA official, Jamal Muhaisen, argued that the payments were “not a financial matter, but rather a matter that is connected to the Palestinian historical narrative, according to which the prisoners and martyrs represent our Palestinian people’s struggle.”
Until last month, Abbas and other PA officials had repeatedly indicated to the Trump administration that they would take serious steps on both the payments and terror incitement in the PA more broadly. But Abbas is said to have been enraged when, at a meeting in Ramallah on June 22, visiting White House senior adviser Jared Kushner reportedly demanded an end to the payments.
Greenberg and Hoenlein said, “There can be no real prospect for progress on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians until the Palestinian’s end their policy of glorifying so-called ‘martyrs’, incentivizing murder and reinforcing a culture which legitimizes and encourages terror. The United States and other countries should insist on an immediate end to the Palestinian policies that enable the despicable practice of paying blood money to reward perpetrators of terrorism against Israelis and the bureaucracy that has supported them should be dismantled.”
In an interview with The Algemeiner last week, ex-Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon urged the US Congress to pass the Taylor Force Act — which would cut off American funding of the PA if it continues the terror payments.
“It is immoral to ignore the ‘pay-for-slay’ phenomenon,” Ya’alon said. “It is immoral to ignore the promotion of terror by the PLO. It is immoral to ignore the encouragement by the PA of the murder of Israelis.”