Palestinian payments to incarcerated terrorists and martyrs’ families rise in 2017
By Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser
The Palestinian Authority recently released its detailed budget for 2017, and it includes the usual allocations for salaries to imprisoned and released terrorists, as well as to the families of Palestinians who were killed (“martyrs”) or wounded in the “struggle against Zionism.”
According to the PA budget, salaries to incarcerated and released terrorists will amount in 2017 to 552 million shekels ($153.4 million), a rise of 13 percent over the original budget of 2016 and 11 percent more than the actual expenditure in 2016 (revised budget). The money will be transferred to the Palestinian National Fund, the financial arm of the PLO, which was designated by Israel as a terror organization due to its involvement in paying terrorist salaries.
The amount allocated for the families of those killed or wounded in the struggle against Zionism, rose by 4 – 8 percent and is set at 687 million shekels in 2017. Altogether, the expenditures for supporting terror in the 2017 Palestinian Authority budget is 1.240 billion shekels ($344 million). This sum constitutes 7 percent of the total budget, similar to the last several years, but amounts to 49.6 percent of foreign aid received by the PA due to diminishing amount of external aid expected in 2017.
The budget includes, like in previous years, funding for various benefits for the families of the killed and wounded, and for the families of the arrested terrorists. Among them, 500 families of the martyrs will receive a Hajj pilgrimage as part of the Saudi gift given to the PA. As in the 2016 budget, the 2017 budget points out that of more than 20,000 families who receive the monthly payments, which are referred to as salaries, there are 375 families that get special assistance.
Actual Welfare Payments
The budget for real welfare support is 762 million shekels ($211.6 million) in 2017, and the total budget for welfare (including administrative expenditures) is 826 million shekels ($229.4 million). It is used for paying 118,000 families under the poverty line 750 -1800 shekels ($208 – $500), exempting 80,000 poor children from tuition and from paying for textbooks, providing 5,000 families with special financial assistance, providing 120,000 families with medical insurance, and supplying food to 217,000 persons who do not have food security. The 2016 budget figures are very similar (the number of families who receive the 750 -1800 shekels was 125,000). The amount of welfare support per family under the poverty-line is much smaller than salaries provided to terrorists and their families.
These details are especially problematic as the Palestinian terror continues. Among the would-be recipients of the aid provided to the families of terrorists are the families of the terrorists who murdered Hadas Malka, a policewoman stabbed to death at the Damascus Gate on June 16, 2017, and the families of the Israeli Arabs from Umm-Al-Fahum who murdered two Israeli policemen on the Temple Mount on July 14, 2017. As a matter of fact, had the murderers been arrested (and not killed), they would have been given a higher salary than “regular” Palestinian terrorists because Arab-Israelis receive 500 shekels more a month (probably because the cost of living in Israel is higher).
These new figures reflect the ongoing commitment of the Palestinians to paying terrorists and terrorists’ families, in spite of international objections and American/Israeli insistence that these payments be halted. This commitment manifests the Palestinian view promulgated by Palestinian law that refers to the terrorists as the “fighting sector” of the Palestinian society. This ongoing pattern stands in sharp contrast to the Palestinian commitments in the Oslo Accords and to international law and conventions. It also reflects the fact that until now, no real pressure has been put on the Palestinians to stop the payments.
In the United States, the proposed legislation that calls for cutting U.S. economic aid to the PA, known as the “Taylor Force Act,” has not yet been approved by the U.S. Congress. In Israel, the proposed law which would deduct the money the PA spends on supporting terror from the money Israel transfers to the PA (Palestinian taxes collected by Israel) is still under review by the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee of the Knesset, after it was approved in a preliminary reading.
Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser is Director of the Project on Regional Middle East Developments at the Jerusalem Center. He was formerly Director General of the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs and head of the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence.