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March 16, 2022 3:27 pm
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A Message to the PA: Pay Your Doctors, Not Your Terrorists

avatar by Maurice Hirsch

Opinion

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during a meeting of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Feb. 6, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Mohamad Torokman.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) narrowly avoided a strike of Palestinian doctors. The doctors were set to strike because the PA has failed to implement promises it made to the doctors to improve their pay.

Explaining why it could not fulfill its promises to the doctors, the PA Ministry of Health blamed the “stoppage of external aid,” and the effects of Israel’s anti “Pay-for-Slay” law — the Israeli law designed to combat the PA’s huge payments to terrorists.

The PA Ministry of Health referred to this as the “theft of tax money … as a result of the national position that adheres to principles”:

The [PA] Ministry of Health called on the Doctor’s Union not to implement the measures of escalation that were announced in a statement it issued on Feb. 25 [2022], and not to turn to a strike in the [PA] governmental health sector at this difficult and sensitive time…

The ministry said that the [PA] government and the ministry are in a difficult situation in light of the lack of financial resources, the stoppage of external aid, and the theft of tax money by the occupation and it taking a large part of our money as a result of the national position that adheres to the principles. The ministry also noted that the political pressures that the Israeli occupation authorities are exerting on the leadership have caused a suffocating financial crisis that still exists.

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 4, 2022 — emphasis added]

Indeed, since Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) exposed the PA’s payments to terrorists, foreign aid to the PA has dropped by 90%. A substantial part of the foreign aid was lost when the US passed the Taylor Force Act, which conditions the bulk of US aid to the PA on its abolition of payments to terrorists.

At the same time, Israel’s anti “Pay-for-Slay” law is also having an increased effect.

However, despite the mounting pressure, the PA stubbornly clings to “the national position that adheres to principles,” and insists on continuing to reward terrorists with huge cash sums.

A comparison of the PA’s payments to terrorists, with the PA’s payments to the Palestinian doctors, clearly demonstrates the PA’s distorted priorities.

The PA pays every Palestinian terrorist arrested by Israel a monthly salary. The starting terrorist “salary” of 1,400 shekels ($450) rises automatically with time spent in prison, reaching a huge 12,000 shekels ($3,859). The following chart, based on the PA’s 2004 Law of Prisoners and Released Prisoners and its implementing regulations, shows the terrorist prisoners “pay scale”:

Ahead of the potential doctors’ strike, the Palestinian Union of Doctors claimed that the basic salary of a general doctor is 5,500 shekels per month, while a specialist earns 6,800 shekels per month. After 20 years, the salaries grow to 7,000 and 8,800 shekels respectively. [Aliqtisadi website, Apr. 29, 2021]

If one compares the monthly salary of a doctor, after 7 years of study — 5,500 shekels — to that of an imprisoned terrorist who has already spent 7 years in prison — 4,000 shekels (and also takes into account that the terrorist has no expenses whatsoever), it’s clear which “profession” — terrorist or doctor — the PA prioritizes.

That prioritization is even clearer when 20 years of “professional experience” is taken into account. While the PA pays a specialist doctor with 20 years’ experience (after 7 years of study) 8,800 shekels ($2,678) a month, it pays the terrorist who has spent the same 27 years in prison 10,000 shekels ($3,215) per month.

Moreover, according to financial reports published by the PA, in the entire year of 2021, the PA wage responsibility for the entire Ministry of Health (employees of the ministry, doctors, nurses etc.) was 892,607,850 shekels.

While the PA is doing its utmost to hide its terror payments, PMW estimates that in 2021, the PA spent 840 million shekels ($256 million) paying financial rewards to imprisoned terrorists, released terrorists, wounded terrorists, and the families of dead terrorists.

In other words, if the PA would only stop paying hundreds of millions of shekels/dollars a year to terrorists, the PA coffers could swell, the international community could restore its aid to the PA, punitive Israeli sanctions would be cancelled, and the PA would be able to double the salaries of Palestinian doctors.

It’s all a question of priorities.

Lt. Col. (res.) Maurice Hirsch, Adv. is the Head of Legal Strategies for Palestinian Media Watch, where a version of this article first appeared.

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