Australia Demands Palestinians Reveal if Aid Money Funds Terrorist ‘Martyrs’

Masked militants from Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, a militia linked to the Fatah movement, hold their rifles and the Palestinian flag during a press conference to condemn the decision by U.S. President Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, in Gaza City, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. A number of U.S. …
AP/Adel Hana

Australia has demanded assurances from the Palestinian Authority that Aus­tralian aid has not funded payments to terrorist “martyrs” or their families.

The Palestinian Authority has in the past been accused of dispersing stipends or “martyr payments” of up to $US3500 ($4600) a month to the families of those killed while attacking Israel.

In 2017 alone, the Palestinian Authority’s budget showed a “huge increase” in the funding of salaries for imprisoned terrorists and the families of “martyrs,” according to an Israeli research institute.

Palestinian Media Watch said the amount of money allocated by the PA for payments to terrorists jailed in Israel in 2017 rose 13 percent to $158 million — compared to $135 million in 2016. During the same time frame, disbursements for family members of dead terrorists increased by 4 percent — to $197 million from $183 million.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said such payments are in conflict with Australian values and a letter to the authority demanding answers was sent from Canberra this week.

“Obviously that is completely at odds with Australian values,” an official from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) told a Senate estimates hearing on Thursday

“So on the 29th of May our Foreign Minister has written to her counterpart raising concerns about these payments that show up in the Palestinian Authority’s budget and seeking assurances that the Australian funding (does not) in any way enable or encourage acts of violence.”

The official said: “The Foreign Minister herself sought further explanation and assurance from the Palestinian Authority.”

Senator Eric Abetz told the committee he was pleased Ms Bishop sought the clarification.

“The Palestinian martyr fund not only encourages murder and terror attacks, it is a major barrier to peace in the Middle East,” he said.

Mr. Abetz wants Australia to cut its $43 million in aid to Palestinian authorities until the martyr fund is wound up.

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