Palestinian leaders are facing outrage from their own constituents after leaked documents revealed  that members of the Palestinian Authority (PA) cabinet gave themselves a secret retroactive pay raise in 2017, resulting in a 67 percent salary hike.
The Associated Press reported Tuesday that the lavish payouts came at a time of economic hardship, which to this day persists in the Palestinian territories. In 2017, the PA cut the salaries of 50,000 ordinary workers in Gaza by a third, arguing the government was lacking the funds to pay them.
The news broke after a series of confidential documents were posted anonymously to social media and showed that the prime minister’s monthly salary was raised to $6,000, while the salaries for cabinet ministers spiked from $3,000 to $5,000.
The decision was approved by PA President Mahmoud Abbas and kept secret from the public, overriding a 2004 law that fixed salaries of ministers.
The report provoked outrage among the Palestinian people, who have long seen their leadership as corrupt and out of touch. “The cabinet members behaved as if the government is their private shop and they can take as much as they want without being held accountable,” said political commentator Ehab Jareri.
In March, the PA penalized law-abiding employees to avoid cutting salaries of Palestinian terrorists and their families under the so-called “pay-to-slay” scheme, which led the United States and Israel to cut aid until the PA stops inciting terror.
PA Deputy Prime Minister Nabil Abu Rudeina said that “non-payment of the public employees” was less significant for the Palestinian leadership “than subtracting one penny from the family of a martyr or prisoner, who sacrificed his life and freedom for Palestine and its heroic people.”
A public poll released in April by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center found that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have no faith in their political leadership and are desperate for elections.
Only a small percentage of Palestinians surveyed, about 11 percent, said that they trust PA President Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of Fatah. The leader of Hamas, Ismael Haniyeh, received an approval rate of only 6 percent.
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