Jpost – Arab – Israeli Conflict
One of first items of business Israel should raise with the new Trump administration is the need to stop Palestinian Authority payments to terrorists and their families, Yossi Kuperwasser, of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, said Tuesday.
“One of the things that we should ask of the Americans is to lead an effort among donors to the Palestinian Authority – and set an example itself – not to pay money to terrorists,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “This should be obvious, but it is not.”
Kuperwasser recently wrote a monograph put out by the JCPA, entitled “Incentivizing Terrorism, Palestinian Authority Allocations to Terrorists and their Families,” in which he follows the money from the PA to the bank accounts of terrorists in prisons, and to the families of “martyrs” — Palestinians killed carrying out terrorist attacks.
The US and other donor states to the PA have a responsibility over what is being done with the money they provide the PA, Kuperwasser said, adding they need to “prevent a situation where American money is being used for terrorism against Israel, and also against Americans who have been killed in attacks.”
According to Kuperwasser’s report, “The PA pays directly and, as of 2014, partly through the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), about 1.1 billion shekels (around $300 million) every year as salaries to Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails, continuing after they are released, and to the families of dead terrorists and other Palestinians who died fighting against Zionism.”
This amounts to seven percent of the Palestinian budget, and more than 20% of the annual foreign aid to the PA.
He charted a sliding pay scale for prisoners, depending on how long they are in prison, ranging from NIS 1,400 a month for those up to 3 years in jail, to NIS 7,000 for those in prison for 15-20 years, and NIS 12,000 for those sitting in jail for more than 30 years.
In addition, grants for released prisoners range from $1,500 to those in prison for 1-3 years, all the way to $25,000 for terrorists released after 30 years.
“Official legislation of the Palestinian Authority places all Palestinians (including Israeli Arabs) imprisoned in Israel for terror crimes on the PA payroll to receive a monthly salary from the PA,” he wrote. “The legislation defines ‘prisoners’ benefiting from this requirement, as ‘Anyone imprisoned in the occupation’s prisons as a result of his participation in the struggle against the occupation’.”
Kuperwasser put at some 5,500 the number of Palestinian prisoners serving time for terror-related offenses. These payments go to terrorists from all the terrorist organizations, including Hamas, and also to those who carried out attacks after the Oslo accords.
Moreover, he pointed out, “the salaries are guaranteed in advance to the terrorists and their families, thus making the Palestinian Authority solicitors of terror activities and directly responsible for them.”
Kuperwasser wrote that the payments of salaries stands “in sharp contrast to the Oslo agreements, according to which the PLO directly and the PA through the PLO have committed themselves to stop terror and to refrain from encouraging terror. It is also in stark contradiction to international conventions on counter-terrorism.”
This point is particularly salient now, since US Secretary of State John Kerry, in his recent speech slamming the settlements, stressed the degree to which the Israeli government’s current policies were contrary to the Oslo accords.
“It may seem strange,” Kuperwasser wrote, “but the international and Israeli reactions to these payments have been minimal until recently, and the aid and the payments keep flowing without significant interruption.”
Kuperwasser, formerly the director general of the Strategic Affairs Ministry and before that the head of the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence, suggested a number of reasons for this.
His reasons included the following: Ignorance of Palestinian incitement and inducements to terror; fear that the Palestinians “will become even more radical” if the funds are cut off to the PA because of support for terrorists; concern that denying funds to the PA because of these payments may cause an uproar among Muslims in the West and the Arab world.”
“The reaction of the donor community and Israel reflects the success of the Palestinians in portraying themselves as victims,” he wrote.
“The donors are uncomfortable making official Palestinian support of terror an issue of dispute with the PA.”
Israel, Kuperwasser continued, must clarify to the international community that in spite of its interest in the existence of the PA and its interest of promoting peace with the Palestinians, “it is not going to tolerate the ongoing Palestinian support and solicitation of terrorism.
“The easiest way to achieve this goal is to withhold from the Palestinian Authority the amount of money that it spends on these salaries/benefits and to clarify to the donors, especially the United States, that Israel expects them to do the same,” he wrote.
Kuperwaser concluded that the PA’s “institutional and legislated payments to imprisoned terrorist and families of terrorist killed while carrying out attacks reflect the ironclad formal commitment of the PA and its leadership to incentivize Palestinian society to commit acts of terror. This constitutes the major obstacle to peace and a violation of all the commitments of the Palestinians in their internationally guaranteed agreements with Israel.”