During the Prime Minister’s recent visit to the Middle East, Israeli officials raised serious concerns with the British delegation about the relationship between UK aid money, the Palestinian Authority, and reward payments to terrorists, reports The Telegraph.
British aid to the Palestinian government amounted to £343 million between 2011 and 2015. And that aid helped finance generous salaries and bonuses to about 5,000 convicted Palestinian terrorists.
Under the Palestinian Law of the Prisoner, those convicted of terror offences are immediately placed on the Palestinian Authority payroll. Salaries are reserved for those “resisting the occupation”, not those guilty of other crimes.
The more serious the offence, the more money is paid. The longest-serving terrorists receive £2,075 per month, plus bonuses for wives and children. Grants made upon release can be as much as £50,000. That is substantial, as the average Palestinian wage is about £312 per month.
The Palestinian Authority does not dispute the figures, and is unapologetic about the payments. “We have nothing to hide,” said Amr Nasser, director of the Ministry of Detainees’ and Ex-Detainees’ Affairs. “The bottom line here is the way those detainees are perceived by the Palestinian people.”
These Palestinian “freedom fighters” include men like Abdallah Barghouti, who is serving multiple life sentences for orchestrating attacks that killed 67 Israeli civilians in 2001 and 2002, including at least seven children and a pregnant woman; and Amjad and Hakim Awad, who in 2011 stabbed to death five members of the same family, including two children and a three-month-old baby.
Calculations based on the salary figures in an official 2010 document, verified by Palestinian officials, suggest that Barghouti alone is likely to have received about £100,000.
The Palestinian Authority has made it clear that the salaries are paid because of the high esteem in which these terrorists are held. As Mr Nasser said, “the Palestinian people will not let the families of their heroes starve!” He also confirmed that those guilty of crimes other than terrorism receive no such “welfare payments”.
Sir Gerald Howarth, a Conservative MP, has called for Britain to suspend all aid to the Palestinian Authority until payments to terrorists cease.
“The Palestinian Authority is putting two fingers up to the British taxpayer,” he said. “It is not the job of the hardworking British taxpayer to fund payments to terrorists.
“Taxpayers will be appalled if one single penny is going not to relieve poverty but to line the pockets of those convicted of terrorism. Britain should absolutely be withdrawing aid to the Palestinian Authority until this stops.”
A number of other countries are increasingly alarmed by the Palestinian terrorist-funding policy.
Canada refuses to make any payments directly to the Palestinian Authority, instead only funding humanitarian development projects carried out by international organisations. Norway has made it clear to the Palestinian government that “any policy that can be seen as a policy of reward for terrorism is not acceptable”, and that as a major aid contributor will “continue to express concern” over this practice. The issue has been debated in the Dutch parliament, as well as in Washington.
For its part, however, the Palestinian Authority remains belligerent. Speaking on official Palestinian television in November, Issa Karake, the Palestinian Authority’s minister of prisoner’s affairs, said:
“The Europeans want their money that comes to us to remain clean, not to go to families of those they claim to be terrorists. [But European countries] need to renounce this occupation mentality. These are heroes, self-sacrificing fighters… We appreciate the people of the revolution and are proud of them.”