The House Foreign Affairs Committee discovered last week that the Palestinian Authority (PA) saves 10% of its annual budget for the families of terrorists who perish in their nefarious line of work.
This year, $442 of that budget will come from the US – from American taxpayers.
The committee met Wednesday with Middle Eastern expert Yigal Carmon in a hearing entitled “Financially Rewarding Terrorism in the West Bank.”
Nearly $140 million of the PA’s 2016 budget has been earmarked for imprisoned terrorists and their families; another $172 million for the families of “martyrs,” says Yigal Carmon, President of the Middle East Media Research Institute.
Carmon told the committee that the amount of money handed to families ranges from $364 a month to more than $3,000 a month depending on the length of the prisoner’s sentence. Jerusalem’s terrorists get an additional $78 per month; Arab Israelis get an extra $130. Anyone released from prison after five or more years is immediately eligible for hire with the Palestinian Authority institution.
Committee chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) notes that the PA’s handout system means that “the highest payments go to those serving life sentences – to those who prove most brutal…If a Palestinian state was established, it’s hard to see how this ‘pay to slay’ policy wouldn’t put them on the state sponsor of terrorism list.”
Carmon estimates another 10% of the PA’s budget goes to terrorists’ salaries. “About 10% goes to reward people who carry out attacks, stabbings, and shootings of the Israeli population,” says Royce.
The United States provided the Palestinian Authority with $338 million in foreign aid in 2015. The Obama Administration plans to increase this number to $442 million for FY 2016.
A full third of the Palestinian Authority’s money comes from foreign aid, and donor nations have a responsibility to “help stop the bloodshed,” says Royce. “So far, the international community has failed to effectively use its leverage.”
In recent years, the Obama Administration “has been hesitant to hold the PA accountable – yet has consistently pressured Israel,” added Royce.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced last Friday that his government would immediately begin to withhold a portion of the tax revenue it sends to the PA – equal in amount to the money paid out to terrorists and their families. As a result of Congressional action, the US government has been making similar deductions from aid to the PA.
The Palestinian Authority is trying to dodge these actions by changing the way the payments to terrorists and their families are made. In 2014, PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas ordered that payments be made through a commission of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) rather than through the PA’s prisoner affairs ministry.
This is “simply a shell game designed to avoid cutoff of aid,” Indiana Senator Dan Coats points out.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill last week that adds the PLO and all affiliates to a provision that had previously applied to the PA only. This decision to stymie the PA comes after a wave of violence in which Palestinians have repeatedly killed, stabbed, shot, and blown up Israelis. A recent victim, 13-year-old Israeli-American Hallel Ariel, was stabbed to death in her bed. The PLO considers her killed a “martyr.”