Tags: US | Palestinians | Abbas

State Department Tricked on Ending Palestinian Terrorist Stipends

Image: State Department Tricked on Ending Palestinian Terrorist Stipends
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas

By    |   Wednesday, 04 Jun 2014 11:03 PM

Under international pressure over its policy of paying salaries to imprisoned terrorists, the Palestinian Authority this week announced changes that are said to be aimed at addressing foreign donors’ concerns.

But critics claim the changes are only cosmetic and are simply a ploy by President Mahmoud Abbas to continue funneling European and U.S. taxpayer dollars to terrorists in Israeli prisons.

According to Palestinian Media Watch, an Israeli group that monitors the Palestinian media, the salaries cost $103 million in 2013 and are expected to total at least $130 million this year. Members of Congress have recently suggested deducting the payments from U.S. funding for the Palestinian Authority, and European governments have begun raising objections as well.

But efforts to pressure the Palestinian Authority to end the practice may have been undercut by Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Anne Patterson, who in recent congressional testimony
stated erroneously that the Palestinian Authority was looking to phase out the subsidies.

At an April 29 House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing, Texas Republican Rep. Randy Weber asked Patterson if the Palestinian Authority should be hit with sanctions over the payments.

She replied, "Frankly, I know that they're going to try and phase that out, and we should give them an opportunity to do so."

Patterson also claimed that subsidies had been designed to care for the families of prisoners.

But according to Palestinian Media Watch, Patterson got the facts wrong. Not only have total subsidies been increasing, but Palestinian officials have
explicitly stated that the payments are not considered social-welfare assistance to the prisoners’ families, but salaries given to the incarcerated men because they are considered Palestinian heroes.   

The
watchdog group's analysis emphasizes that the reforms’ are purely cosmetic.

“Accordingly, U.S. and European donor money will continue to flow to the PA, the PA will pass the money to the PLO, and the PLO will pay the salaries of the terrorists,” it said, referring to the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

The group expressed concern that  “this PA ploy – to keep the benefits and salaries at the same level but bypass Congressional pressure by moving it to the PLO – is what the PA presented to Patterson as a ‘phasing out’ of the salary program.”

For their part, official Palestinian Authority sources also emphasize the changes are only for appearances’ sake.

The Palestinian daily newspaper Al-Ayyam reported that the reforms would constitute “a change of name and nothing more.”

"We eliminate the international pressure and the attempts to tamper with this issue,” said Palestinian Deputy Minister of Prisoners' Affairs Ziyad Abu Ein.

He said  the Palestinian Authority  leadership “wants to keep this holy issue away from the influence of the donor countries, the interference of the donor countries, and the occasional negative influence of the donor countries."

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Under international pressure over its policy of paying salaries to imprisoned terrorists, the Palestinian Authority this week announced changes that are said to be aimed at addressing foreign donors’ concerns.
US, Palestinians, Abbas
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2014-03-04
Wednesday, 04 Jun 2014 11:03 PM
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