Millions of pounds of British aid money to the Palestinian Authority were used to encourage terrorism and led to a spike in Palestinian violence, an independent inquiry found.
A £156.4 million ($222.5 million) aid project by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) designed to support Palestinian state-building instead led to public sector employees being “more likely” to engage in terrorism, the report by the Overseas Development Institute, a think tank, revealed. The five-year project allowed Palestinian civil servants to participate in “active conflict,” since their salaries were paid even if they were convicted of criminal or terrorist offenses. The convicted employees were also able to assume their old positions after finishing their jail sentences.
“Conflict, and therefore fatalities, are more likely when the opportunity cost of engaging in conflict is lowered,” the report explained. “For public sector employees, the opportunity cost of conflict is lowered as their employment will be kept open when they return from detention, and their family will continue to be paid their salary.”
The DFID funded the salaries of 5,000 Palestinian civil employees during the project’s duration. “An increase in public sector employment by one per cent is associated with an increase in fatalities by 0.6% over this time period,” the report noted.
The existence of the Overseas Development Institute’s report was revealed by The Telegraph on Sunday, a day before the British parliament was set to debate foreign aid spending.
“Sadly, the Palestinian Authority role has deteriorated to, at best, the cheerleader to acts of violence to, at worst, the operator of a revolving door policy for terrorists,” Sir Eric Pickles, the chairman of Conservative Friends of Israel and a former cabinet minister, told The Telegraph. “British taxpayers will be shocked to learn that we are helping to fund an equal opportunity employment policy for convicted terrorists.”
Joan Ryan, a member of parliament and the chair of Labour Friends of Israel, called for an independent probe to “ensure that taxpayers’ money assists the process of building peace and coexistence rather than ending up in the pockets of convicted terrorists.”
“This is an issue which has been put to the department repeatedly over recent years and which is has consistently and repeatedly failed to act on,” she added.
The British government launched its own probe last week into whether the PA is misusing aid money to pay salaries to convicted terrorists and incite violence against Israel. The results of that inquiry are expected by the fall.
The subject of payments to terrorists came to the fore in Britain this past March after The Mail on Sunday published an exposé showing that the PA paid generous salaries to a number of convicted Palestinian terrorists, despite its claims to the contrary. That report, as well as others such as one on Israel Radio, was based on research done by Palestinian Media Watch, a nonprofit that has documented how the PA incentivizes terror since 2011.