Palestinian Prisoner Stipends
Washington Post Reports –
By William Booth
The Palestinians call these payments “salaries” or “social welfare benefits.” The Israelis call them “blood money,” designed not to help widows and orphans, but to incite Palestinians into attacking Jews.
Palestinian authorities have been paying prisoners for years, but the issue is now front and center as Israel presses President Trump to demand that Palestinians end the practice.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a speech earlier this month, addressed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, asking, “How can you speak about peace with Israel and at the same time pay murderers who spill the blood of innocent Israelis?”
“Fund peace, not murder,” Netanyahu said, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, called on the United States, Europe and others to cut the Palestinians off.
“Aid provided by the donor countries to the Palestinian Authority every year ends up funding terrorists who murdered innocent Israelis,” he said in a statement.
Palestinian assailants sentenced to 30 years in Israeli jail get $3,000 a month, Danon said.
The families of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces get about $800 or $1,000 a month, officials say. Tens of thousands of individuals and families receive the money.
“Put simply, this is official Palestinian blood money, rewarding terrorists who kill Jews,” Danon said.
U.S. diplomats have quietly pressed the Palestinians to stop the payments, but during the Obama administration, U.S. officials kept the issue below the radar. To pacify donors, the Palestinian Authority also transferred responsibility for making the payments to the Palestine Liberation Organization.
State Department spokesmen said that the United States reduced the $400 million in aid the Palestinian Authority had received annually because of its salaries to prisoners and others, but told The Washington Post that the exact amount deducted is “classified.”
They did not explain why it is classified.
Yossi Kuperwasser, a former top intelligence officer and Israeli army general, who now works as a scholar at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, said the Palestinian government allocates $300 million a year for these payments, which is about 7 percent of the annual budget and more than 20 percent of the annual foreign aid given to the government by all donors.
This is not a trivial number, Kuperwasser said. “This is a big, big number.”
Kuperwasser said that it’s common-sensical that stopping payments to Palestinians who attack Israelis would reduce terror assaults.
“This is solicitude in advance,” he said. “This a promise to pay.”