A Palestinian man admitted to Israeli interrogators that the Palestinian Authority’s policy of paying generous salaries to the families of terrorists motivated him to attack Israelis, according to a translated transcript published by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) on Monday. PMW shared the document ahead of Wednesday’s Senate hearing on the Taylor Force Act, which would cut aid payments to the PA until it stops compensating convicted terrorists and their families.
Khaled Rajoub was arrested after an unsuccessful attempt to murder Israelis and confessed during interrogation that “the important thing is that I will die and they will kill me, so that my children will receive a [PA] allowance and live happily.”
“Had Khaled Rajoub been killed by Israel during his terror attack,” PMW explained, “the PA would have declared him a ‘Martyr’ and this would secure his family a monthly PA lifetime allowance of 2,800 shekels/month ($730): 1,400 base pay, 400 for his wife and 200 for each of 5 children.”
Rajoub expressed no regret for his actions, telling interrogators, “if you’ll set me free, I’ll do it again as soon as possible. I’ll bring another car, and I’ll run over [soldiers] at the first military post I see. I’ll kill as many as possible, and they’ll shoot me, and I’ll die. There is no other solution.”
A year ago, an official PA newspaper claimed in its lead article that “dying as a martyr is the path of excellence and superiority.”
At the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Wednesday, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, now a fellow at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, said in his prepared testimony:
The unacceptable messages of tolerance for, glorification of, or even encouragement to violence by Palestinians against Israelis that are part of Palestinian political discourse help fuel the waves of terrorist attacks Israelis have suffered from. So does the indefensible Palestinian Authority practice of providing payments to Palestinians in prison for terrorist attacks, including those who killed Israelis, and to the families of those who died carrying out such attacks. Indeed, the Palestinian system actually provides more money to those who serve longer sentences, meaning the worse the crime, the greater the financial compensation.
At the hearing, former State Department official Elliott Abrams supported reducing aid to the PA, indicating that the U.S. must “send a clear message to the Palestinian people and leadership that we find the current system unacceptable and in fact repugnant. We need to be sure that our aid money does not even indirectly sustain that system. We should do this as a matter of principle— frankly, whether the Palestinians like it or not, and whether the Israelis like it or not.”
Sen. Bob Corker (R – Tenn.), chairman of the committee, said following the hearing that a vote on the bill would soon take place, Fox News reported.
Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D – Md.), the committee’s ranking member, said that the PA must stop paying terrorists and their families, calling the practice “an incitement to violence.” Cardin added that “President Trump helped convene a meeting in Saudi Arabia to stop the financing of terrorism. Well, what the Palestinian Authority is doing is financing terrorism. That must end and the United States must use every opportunity to bring that to end.”
The White House has prioritized ending salaries to terrorists and incitement to violence in its efforts to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
When he met with PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah in May, U.S President Donald Trump said, “Peace can never take root in an environment where violence is tolerated, funded and even rewarded.”
However, the PA has repeatedly refused to end the practice. Last week, Abbas said that he would rather quit instead of stopping the payment to terrorists, “Even if I will have to leave my position, I will not compromise on the salary (rawatib) of a Martyr (Shahid) or a prisoner.”
In June, PA officials confirmed that they will continue paying salaries to terrorists and their families, contradicting an assertion by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that the policy had been stopped. Issa Qaraqe, head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, characterized American and Israeli pressure to end the payments as an “aggression against the Palestinian people.”
The PA issued payments to terrorists and their families totaling more than $1 billion over a four year period, according to a recent study by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. The sum accounts for seven percent of the PA’s budget and is equivalent to 20 percent of the foreign aid the PA receives annually.
The Wall Street Journal‘s editorial board argued in November that payments to Palestinian terrorists “are an official incentive program for murder that in any other context would be recognized as state sponsorship of terror.” Meanwhile, Eli Lake wrote in Bloomberg View in July that offering salaries to Palestinians who kill Israelis “encourages” terror attacks “as a legitimate act of resistance.”
The subject of payments to terrorists came to the fore in Britain in March 2016 after The Mail on Sunday published an exposé showing that the PA paid generous salaries to a number of convicted Palestinian terrorists. That report, as well as another released by Israel Radio, was based on research done by Palestinian Media Watch, a nonprofit that has documented how the PA incentivizes terror since 2011.
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