TEL AVIV – Following the proposal of a new bill that would see a cut in funds to the Palestinian Authority equal to the salaries paid out to convicted terrorists, the chairman of the Palestinian Prisoners Club on Sunday vowed that the Palestinians will continue the payments regardless.
The bill, approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, translates into the “theft of Palestinian money,” Qadura Fares said.
The legislation, proposed by MK Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid), will see Israel slash around NIS 1 billion ($285 million) from the annual tax and customs revenues it collects for the Palestinians on goods. The amount is equivalent to what the PA pays out to terrorists and their families. According to Stern, the fact that the PA “rewards and encourages murder” must stop because it is a “barrier to peace.”
Fares said the bill “strongly contradicts international law” and is an attempt “to stigmatize the Palestinian struggle with terrorism and to conflate the issues of the so-called war on terror with the Palestinian martyrs and prisoners who fought for freedom.”
Faras added that despite the setback, the payments to terrorists “will not stop.”
Israel transfers about NIS 5.4 billion ($1.5 billion) a year to the PA. According to the proposed bill, in 2016 the PA paid out NIS 1.1 billion ($303 million) in salaries and other benefits to terrorists and their families.
The amount of money that terrorists receive correlates to the length of their prison sentence, so that the deadliest terrorists receive the highest payout, reaching a few thousand dollars a month.
Breitbart Jerusalem reported another Fatah official as saying that the recent appointment of a jailed terrorist to a senior position within the party was proof that the terrorist salaries would not end anytime soon.
Fatah Central Committee member Jamal Muhaisen said the appointment of Karim Younes sends a clear message of defiance to the U.S. and other countries calling for the payments to stop.
Last month, PLO Director of Prisoners Affairs Issa Karake said that the position given to Younes, who was convicted of murdering an Israeli soldier in 1980, served as proof that “our prisoners are not terrorists.”
“I think that this is a very great and significant political response, [which says] that our prisoners are not terrorists and are not criminals. They are freedom prisoners and fighters who enjoy an important national, human and legal status among their leadership and among their Palestinian people,” Karake said.
A report presented to the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee last month revealed that more than $1 billion has been paid by the PA over the past four years to terrorists and their families.