The Palestinian Authority has continued to award lifetime payments to convicted terrorists, despite a promise to end the practice, an investigative report published Sunday by The Mail on Sunday (MoS) revealed. The report was part of a broader investigation into what the paper described as the “wasteful” use of British taxpayer money.
According to MoS, the British government gives £72 million (over $102 million) to the Palestinians annually, with more than one-third of that sum directly going to the PA. While the PA said it that would no longer use aid money to pay terrorists or their families, recipients of the funds and official PA statements confirm that the practice continues.
Ahmad Musa, who admitted to shooting two Israelis dead, told MoS that he receives a monthly stipend of £605 (over $850). Musa was jailed for life for his crimes, but was freed after five years in an Israeli effort to restart peace talks with the PA.
Amjad and Hakim Awad, two cousins who in 2011 massacred five members of the Fogel family– parents Ehud and Ruth Fogel, 11 year-old Yoav, four year-old Elad, and three month-old Hadas– in their West Bank home, have been also been paid. Amjad alone may have received more than £16,000 (nearly $23,000), according to estimates. (In 2012, PA television praised the cousins as “heroes.”)
Another terrorist on the payroll is veteran Hamas bomb-maker Abdallah Barghouti. Barghouti is serving 67 life sentences in an Israeli jail over his role in numerous bombings, including at the Hebrew University cafeteria in 2002, the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem in 2001, and a Rishon Lezion nightclub bombing in 2002, which killed 66 people. He is believed to have received £106,000 (over $150,000) for his efforts.
“[The] cash-strapped PA relies on foreign aid for nearly half its budget,” MoS reported. “Yet it gives £79 million a year to prisoners locked up in Israeli jails, former prisoners and their families.” When the paper asked the UK’s Department For International Development about the payments, the DFID defended them as “social welfare” for the families of prisoners, but denied that any British aid was involved. (In a similar vein, when asked about the PA’s payments to terrorists and their families, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Anne Patterson told a congressional hearing in 2014, “they have to provide for the families.”)
The DFID claimed that the PA stopped paying the stipends in 2014, and that the money is now provided by the Palestinian Liberation Organization. However, according to MoS, this assurance conflicts with the accounts given by former Palestinian prisoners and their families, as well as official PA statements. The paper added that Britain gave funds to the PLO until last year.
MoS also noted that in 2015, a year after the PA officially transferred authority over Palestinian prisoners to the PLO, it transferred an extra 444 million shekels (over $116 million) to the PLO. This was nearly the same amount that the PA allocated in the previous years to its now-defunct Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs.
According to Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), which has been documenting the ways that the PA incentivizes terror since 2011, the transfer to the PLO was meant to evade pressure from Western governments that demanded an end to terrorist salaries.
However, the PLO Commission was new only in name. The PLO body would have the same responsibilities and pay the exact same amounts of salaries to prisoners; the former PA Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs, Issa Karake, became the Director of the new PLO Commission and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas retained overall supervision of the PLO Commission.
In addition to highlighting the use of British foreign aid to reward Palestinian terrorists, MoS also investigated the £9 million state-of-the-art palace being built for PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
“This is like a five-star hotel,” a security guard at the complex told MoS. “It has two helipads, two swimming pools, a Jacuzzi, restaurant… all the latest technology.”
The palace, which is weeks away from completion, was designed for “a president whose domain is so dependent on aid that last year his Palestinian Authority had to pass an emergency budget when some was held up by Israel,” according to MoS.
In addition to using foreign aid to reward terrorists, and building a luxury home for Abbas, British foreign aid is also being used to pay the salaries of PA employees living in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip for “[sitting] at home.” These government employees lost their jobs when Hamas took over the Gaza in 2007, yet are still receiving salaries due to foreign aid.
“Getting paid from Britain while living here means you can have a good life,” one ex-teacher told MoS.
Israel Radio obtained documents last October showing that the PA is continuing to pay salaries to convicted terrorists, many of whom were responsible for the most lethal terrorist attacks of the second intifada. The Jerusalem Post reported that the amount of money awarded to the terrorists correlates to the amount of time they’re serving in prison, meaning that “the more gruesome the terrorism, the more money will be paid.”
While knowledge of these payments is “nothing new,” it clearly shows that the PA provides economic incentives for carrying out terrorist acts. More than that, one source said, the fact that these funds are allocated for that purpose helps bolster the image of terrorists – or as the Palestinians often call them, “martyrs” – into heroes.
“It is a problem for the PA. On one hand they claim they want peace and discourage violence, and on the other hand they put terrorists on pedestals, idolize them as heroes, and provide meaningful financial incentives for others to follow their path,” the source said.
[Photo: Noam Moskowitz / Flash90 ]