Palestinian Leaders Dig in on Payments to Terrorists
Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and Qadri Abu Bakr, who directs the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)’s Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs, recently issued a defiant assurance that they won’t end payments to terrorists and their families, despite international pressure.
Bakr “emphasized that the leadership … will continue to support the resolve of the prisoners and their families and will not succumb to the Israeli and American pressures calling to stop the Martyrs’ (Shahids) and prisoners’ salaries (rawatib) and allowances (mukhassasat),” reports the official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, as translated by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW).
Bakr’s sentiment mirrors Abbas’. “By Allah, even if we have only a penny left it will only be spent on the families of the Martyrs and the prisoners, and only afterwards will it be spent on the rest of the people,” Abbas said on official PA TV in July, adding that “martyrs and prisoners” are “stars in the sky,” and these terrorists “have priority in everything.”
Such statements reaffirm that Palestinians convicted of attacking Israelis take precedent over all over sectors of Palestinian society. In fact, terrorists and their families receive far higher payments than welfare recipients.
The amount of money paid to imprisoned or released terrorists depends on the length of the time they spend in jail, which is a function of a crime’s severity. The more time spent in jail (which can sometimes reflect on the brutality or horrific nature of their crime), the more money a Palestinian prisoner receives.
Despite growing international pressure to halt this practice, roughly half of the foreign aid that the PA receives is allocated for payments to terrorist inmates and the “families of martyrs.” The Palestinian government spends $355 million annually on terrorist salaries, about 7.5 percent of the PA’s budget, a PMW analysis showed.
This form of Palestinian incitement is one of the main reasons that the Trump administration has taken specific measures against the PLO in recent weeks. In mid-September, the administration revoked residency permits for the family of the PLO’s envoy to the United States, and reportedly shut down all PLO bank accounts in the country. The White House had announced the closure of the PLO office in Washington a week earlier.
Steven Emerson is considered one of the leading authorities on Islamic extremist networks, financing and operations. He serves as the Executive Director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, a non-profit organization that serves one of the world’s largest storehouses of archival data and intelligence on Islamic and Middle Eastern terrorist groups.