TEL AVIV — “The UN Secretary General didn’t raise the issue of prisoners’ and martyrs’ salaries and we won’t agree to discuss this issue,” Fatah Revolutionary Council member Ahmad Ghunaim told Breitbart Jerusalem.
Ghunaim was referring to Palestinian Authority payments to prisoners, including those convicted of terrorist acts against Israelis, and to prisoners’ families. He was addressing the visit by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to Ramallah on Tuesday as part of a regional trip in which Guterres met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
Fatah is the party of PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
Ghunaim stated, “There’s no scenario in which the Palestinian government will agree for this issue to be raised as an Israeli demand and there’s no scenario in which we will give up. This is not up for negotiation.”
“We know that the Israelis asked Guterres to raise this issue during his meeting with the Palestinian leadership, but, as someone who was involved, I’m telling you that the issue didn’t come up and we wouldn’t have agreed for this issue to be raised,” he added.
Ghunaim continued, “Had the UN secretary general raised his demand that the Palestinian Authority and the PLO should stop paying the wages of heroes, he would have been wrong to do so, violating the trust of the organization he is trusted with and leads.”
“That the Israelis are pressuring him isn’t new, nor is it new that the Israelis are trying to present things as if the UN secretary general and any other guest or other leader accept their side,” said Ghunaim. “It’s been proved in the past that they also presented a distorted picture and put things in the mouths of guests and leaders they met with, distorted things on this subject.”
Ghunaim added, “The Israelis are encouraged by the policy of the U.S. representative to the UN and her threats to stop funding the UN if UN institutions continue to condemn the occupation and remove pressure from the Palestinians. First of all, Israel is not the U.S., and secondly, the U.S. also knows that the UN and UN-member countries have the tools to pressure the member states even if they’re called the U.S. or Israel.
“The threats must stop and we need to deal with the UN and international law, which promise a people under occupation to resist the occupation and defend those who resist the occupation.”
Israel maintains settlements are not illegal but disputed, and does not accept the claim that it is an “occupying” power.
Earlier this week, Abbas promised that he would continue official PA payments to convicted terrorists “until my dying day.” The PA’s 2017 budget for payments to terrorists and their families reportedly amounts to about half of all foreign aid the PA expects to receive this year.