The Palestinian Authority is now spending a sum equal to about half of the foreign budgetary aid that it receives from international donors on payments to Palestinian inmates in Israeli prisons, many of whom are convicted terrorists, and so-called “families of martyrs,” a new study has revealed.
The PA’s budget for 2017 boosts support for current and former Palestinian prisoners to $153.4 million, an increase of 13 percent over the previous year, according to a report published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs on July 24. In addition, the PA allocates $190,869,166 to the families of “martyrs,” an honorific given to Palestinian who are killed while carrying out a terrorist attack. The sum reflects a 9 percent increase compared to the amount spent in 2016.
The total sum spent on Palestinian prisoners and ex-prisoners, as well as the families of “martyrs,” in the 2017 budget is $344 million. That figure is equal to 49.6 percent of all foreign budgetary aid to the PA, comprised mostly of donations from the United States, Europe, and even Israel.
Under the new budget, a Palestinian criminal who serves more than 30 years in prison can expect a generous lifelong payment of over $3,000 a month from the PA. Moreover, 21,500 “martyrs’ families” and families with members injured in the “resistance” are entitled to receive payment in 2017, up from 19,000 families in 2016.
Foreign budgetary support to the PA represents around one-sixth of total foreign aid given to the Palestinians every year, according to the UN. In 2016, the Palestinians received $2,805,825,570 in total foreign aid.
Western donors have tried to put measures in place to prevent aid money from being used by the PA to incentivize terrorism. To that end, Congress is considering bipartisan legislation named in memory of Taylor Force, a U.S. Army veteran murdered in Tel Aviv last year by a Palestinian terrorist. The Taylor Force Act (TFA) would condition American aid by withholding hundreds of millions of dollars if the PA does not cease payments to terrorists.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is expected to unveil an updated version of the TFA on Wednesday. “What they (the Palestinians) are doing relative to rewarding terrorists for killing Israelis is beyond the pale,” Corker said. “We should have done it a long time ago. It’s something that we are going to speak to very soon.”
The PA has so far refused to give in to international demands to stop its “martyrs program.” In a June speech read by his foreign affairs adviser Nabil Shaath, Abbas argued that “payments to support the families are a social responsibility to look after innocent people affected by the incarceration or killing of their loved ones.” In May, Shaath called the American request to end payments to terrorists “insane.”
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.”