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Did the PA lie to the US Secretary of State?
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Did the PA lie to the US Secretary of State?
  • The US Secretary of State was told that the PA intends to "cease the payments to the family members of those who have committed murder or violence against others"
     
  • The PA currently pays 26,800 families of "Martyrs" 660 million shekels ($183 million) per year [2016 PA budget]
     
  • The PA currently pays 6,500 terrorist prisoners salaries amounting to 486 million shekels ($135 million) per year 
Contrary to what the US was told, Abbas and PA officials tell Palestinians that the salaries will never be stopped:
  • PLO Prisoners' Affairs' Commission director:
    "In response to American Secretary of State [Rex Tillerson's] statements about stopping the allowances... Karake emphasized that the Palestinian leadership will not submit to any pressure, and that the aid to the families of the prisoners and Martyrs is a national, moral, and human responsibility. He also rejected all the terms and concepts that define the prisoners and Martyrs as 'terrorists'"
     
  • PLO Prisoners' Affairs' Commission director [April 29, 2017]:
    "The President [Abbas] emphasized his absolute refusal of the Israeli demands to stop the allowances of the families of the prisoners and Martyrs (Shahids), and emphasized his absolute support for them (i.e., for the payments)'" 
     
  • PA Ministry of Information:
    "Martyrs" deserve payments because they are not "highway robbers, but people who sacrificed their lives and freedom"
     
  • PLO official Ahmed Majdalani:
    "... calmed the prisoners and Martyrs' families [saying] that the Palestinian leadership will not submit to the occupation's laws and will continue to be loyal to the Martyrs' blood and the prisoners' suffering." 
by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik

Contrary to the statement by US State Secretary Rex Tillerson that the Palestinian Authority's "intent [is] to cease the payments" to families of terrorist "Martyrs" who "have committed murder or violence against others," PA leaders are denying that they will stop financially rewarding the terrorists. The PLO Director of Prisoners' Affairs' Commission, said today: 

"In response to American Secretary of State [Rex Tillerson's] statements about stopping the allowances... Karake emphasized that the Palestinian leadership will not submit to any pressure, and that the aid to the families of the prisoners and Martyrs is a national, moral, and human responsibility. He also rejected all the terms and concepts that define the prisoners and Martyrs as 'terrorists.'"
[Sawa, independent Palestinian news agency, June 14, 2017]

According to the 2016 PA budget, the PA currently pays 26,800 families of "Martyrs" 660 million shekels ($183 million) per year, and 6,500 terrorist prisoners receive PA salaries amounting to 486 million shekels ($135 million) per year.

Following Abbas' meeting with US Pres. Trump, Palestinian leaders have
repeatedly vowed to the Palestinian people that the salaries will not be stopped. These assurances have come from Abbas himself as well, as described by PLO Prisoners' Affairs' Commission director, Issa Karake:

"The President [Abbas] emphasized his absolute refusal of the Israeli demands to stop the allowances of the families of the prisoners and Martyrs (Shahids), and emphasized his absolute support for them (i.e., for the payments).'"
[Amad, independent Palestinian news website, April 29, 2017]

Responding to a bill proposed in Israel that mandates deducting from the taxes Israel collects on behalf of the PA a sum equivalent to the sum the PA pays in terrorist salaries, Issa Karake repeated that the PA will continue rewarding terrorists with salaries. He also called Israel's proposed bill "a declaration of war against our people's rights and the humanity of the Palestinians."

"Director of [PLO] Commission of Prisoners and Released Prisoners' Affairs Issa Karake responded to [the independent Palestinian news agency] Wattan... about the fact that the Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved a bill to deduct the money that the PA pays as allowances (mukhassasat) to the prisoners, Martyrs' (Shahids') families, and wounded from the tax money that Israel collects for the PA. He said that they will continue to support them and will not submit to the Israeli pressure and blackmail.
Karake explained that the decision to transfer the allowances of the prisoners and Martyrs' families is in the PA's hands, and not in Israel's hands."
[Wattan, independent Palestinian news agency,
June 11, 2017, emphasis added]
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Karake:
"The transfer of the allowances to the Martyrs' families and prisoners will continue, and we will not submit to the Israeli pressures. We will adhere to the aid to the prisoners and Martyrs' families, because they are victims of the occupation."
[WAFA, official PA news agency, June 13, 2017]

"Karake said that the decision of the Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation... to approve a bill to deduct [from the Palestinian tax revenues Israel collects for the PA] the allowances of the families of the prisoners, Martyrs, and wounded is a declaration of war against our people's rights and the humanity of the Palestinians."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, June 13, 2017, emphasis added]

Note that Karake also stressed that the decision to transfer payments to terrorists is made by the PA. Previously, the PA has pretended to foreign donors that it no longer pays salaries to terrorists at all and that this is dealt with solely by the PLO. Palestinian Media Watch has documented that this is untrue, showing the money transfers from the PA's budget to the PLO to cover terrorist salaries. Abbas has since admitted to Norway's Foreign Minister that the PA is in fact still paying the salaries 

Karake added that if necessary, the PA will ask "Arab and Islamic states" for funding to cover the salaries to prisoners:

"Director of [PLO] Commission of Prisoners and Released Prisoners' Affairs Issa Karake emphasized that the Palestinian leadership will not agree to blackmail and bargaining over everything regarding the matter of the prisoners and Martyrs, and the financial support that the leadership provides to them. He also emphasized that the Palestinian leadership will continue to support the prisoners and the [families of] the Martyrs... He noted that it is possible that the Palestinian leadership will turn to the Arab and Islamic states to compensate for the deduction of the money meant for the prisoners and the [families of the] Martyrs."
[Donia Al-Watan, independent Palestinian news agency, June 11, 2017]

Other PLO officials have also repeated that the salaries will continue untouched:

"Secretary-General of the [Palestinian] Popular Struggle Front (PPSF) and member of the PLO Executive Committee Dr. Ahmed Majdalani said that... [Israel's] ordering to deduct the money that the PA pays as allowances (mukhassasat) to the prisoners and Martyrs' families, are a type of robbery and theft of the Palestinian taxpayers' money... Majdalani calmed the prisoners and Martyrs' families [saying] that the Palestinian leadership will not submit to the occupation's laws and will continue to be loyal to the Martyrs' blood and the prisoners' suffering."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, June 13, 2017, emphasis added]

"PLO Executive Committee member and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) political bureau member Tayseer Khaled again emphasized the decision of the PLO Executive Committee in its latest meeting, which determined that the Palestinian National Fund will continue to stand by its national and humanitarian responsibility towards the families of the Martyrs (Shahids) and wounded of the Palestinian people and the families of the prisoners in the Israeli collective prisons."
[Amad, independent Palestinian news website,
June 12, 2017, emphasis added]
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Reacting to the proposed Israeli bill described above, the PA Ministry of Information argued why terrorists deserve salaries:
"The Ministry emphasized that the Martyrs and prisoners are not highway robbers, but rather people who have sacrificed their lives and freedom for the resistance to the occupation."

The following are more examples of statements by Palestinian officials that the PA will not stop the salaries it pays to imprisoned terrorists and "Martyrs'" families:

Headline: "Karake: Deducting the allowances (mukhassasat) of the families of the prisoners, Martyrs, and wounded is a declaration of war"
"Director of [PLO] Commission of Prisoners and Released Prisoners' Affairs Issa Karake said yesterday [June 12, 2017], during his meeting with families of prisoners and Martyrs (Shahids), that Israel as an occupying power can exploit its power to stop the Palestinian tax money to exert pressure and commit extortion. However, it cannot stop our national honor and our sacred right to freedom and defense of our people's rights...
Karake said that the decision of the Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation in the Israeli Parliament (sic., government) on June 11, 2017, to approve a bill to deduct [from the Palestinian tax revenues Israel collects for the PA] the allowances of the families of the prisoners, Martyrs, and wounded is a declaration of war against our people's rights and the humanity of the Palestinians. He added that the strategic purpose of the decision is to delegitimize the Palestinian national struggle for the right to self-determination, and to consider the Palestinian resistance to the occupation, which is represented by the prisoners and Martyrs, as a crime and terror. This is while the longest occupation in modern history is the cruelest, most violent, and severest type of terror, and is the reason for terror and instability in the region."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, June 13, 2017]

Headline: "Karake: We're continuing to transfer the allowances to the prisoners and Martyrs' families"
"Director of [PLO] Commission of Prisoners' Affairs Issa Karake emphasized that the transfer of the allowances to the Martyrs' (Shahids') families and prisoners will continue. He described the occupation government's attempt to authorize the theft of the allowances of the Palestinian prisoners and Martyrs' families from the PA's tax revenues as robbery (refers to a new bill to deduct PA salaries to terrorists from taxes Israel collects for the PA -Ed.), and emphasized that there will be a petition to the international legal system to sue the occupation government over this crime.
Karake told Radio Mawtini today (Tuesday) [June 13, 2017]: 'The occupation authorities have no right to hold the Palestinian tax revenues. The transfer of the allowances to the Martyrs' families and prisoners will continue, and we will not submit to the Israeli pressures. We will adhere to the aid to the prisoners and Martyrs' families, because they are victims of the occupation.'
The director of the Commission of Prisoners' Affairs... warned against the Israeli occupation government's attempt to delegitimize the Palestinian struggle and put it on the terror lists, by legalizing the robbery of the allowances of the prisoners and Martyrs' families."
[WAFA, official PA news agency, June 13, 2017]

Headline: "Majdalani called on countries to support the [PA] budget in response to Netanyahu's statements"
"Secretary-General of the [Palestinian] Popular Struggle Front (PPSF) and member of the PLO Executive Committee Dr. Ahmed Majdalani said that... [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu's call to dismantle UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) and transfer its responsibility for the Palestinian refugees' issues to the [UN] High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the fact that the Israeli Parliament approved a bill (sic., the bill was approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation under the Israeli government. The bill has not yet been approved by the Israeli Parliament -Ed.) ordering to deduct the money that the PA pays as allowances (mukhassasat) to the prisoners and Martyrs' (Shahids') families, are a type of robbery and theft of the Palestinian taxpayers' money...
Majdalani calmed the prisoners and Martyrs' families [saying] that the Palestinian leadership will not submit to the occupation's laws and will continue to be loyal to the Martyrs' blood and the prisoners' suffering."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, June 13, 2017]

Headline: "The [PA] Ministry of Information: The Martyrs, injured, and prisoners are an unavoidable outcome of the legitimate resistance"
"The [PA] Ministry of Information said that the bill of what is called the Ministerial Committee for Legislation in the Israeli Parliament (this refers to the Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation approving a bill to deduct a sum that equals the PA's terrorist salaries from taxes Israel collects for the PA. The bill has not yet been passed by the Israeli Parliament -Ed.) on deducting the allowances of the prisoners, the wounded, and the families of the Martyrs (Shahids) from the PA tax revenues is political extortion that is added to the occupation's record, which is overflowing with cases of robbery of the [Palestinian] people's resources.
The ministry emphasized that the Martyrs and prisoners are not highway robbers, but rather people who have sacrificed their lives and freedom for the resistance to the occupation, which has been approved by all of the laws, and which all peoples of the world have carried out throughout history in order to be rid of colonialism.
The ministry said that Israel defining the Martyrs, wounded, and prisoners [as terrorists] proves the extent of terror and incitement, which ignores the fact that the occupation is the reason, and the sacrifices of the [Palestinian] people and its struggle are an unavoidable outcome and a natural response."
[Ma'an, independent Palestinian news agency, June 12, 2017]

Headline: "Karake: We will not agree to blackmail and will continue to support the prisoners and Martyrs"
"Director of [PLO] Commission of Prisoners and Released Prisoners' Affairs Issa Karake emphasized that the Palestinian leadership will not agree to blackmail and bargaining over everything regarding the matter of the prisoners and Martyrs (Shahids), and the financial support that the leadership provides to them. He also emphasized that the Palestinian leadership will continue to support the prisoners and the [families of] the Martyrs.
Karake said to [independent Palestinian news agency] Donia Al-Watan that the Palestinian leadership will not agree to surrender to the Israeli pressure and its racist laws that are attempting to delegitimize the struggle of the prisoners and Martyrs. He noted that the Israeli occupation is striving to present their struggle as 'crime and terror.'
He added: 'The best response to the occupation's racist laws is to continue to assist the families of the prisoners and Martyrs and to resist their delegitimization.' He emphasized that whatever the pressures may be, the Palestinian leadership will not surrender to them.'
He emphasized that this matter concerns the entire Palestinian people and its struggle for freedom and independence. He noted that it is possible that the Palestinian leadership will turn to the Arab and Islamic states to compensate for the deduction of the money meant for the prisoners and the [families of the] Martyrs. He also noted that there is no choice but to find Arab and Islamic alternatives so as not to leave the families of the prisoners and Martyrs in distress and poverty."
[Donia Al-Watan, independent Palestinian news agency, June 11, 2017]

Headline: "Karake to Wattan: The response to the confiscation of the tax money is to continue supporting the prisoners and Martyrs' families"
"Director of [PLO] Commission of Prisoners and Released Prisoners' Affairs Issa Karake responded to [the independent Palestinian news agency] Wattan this evening, Sunday [June 11, 2017] about the fact that the Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved a bill to deduct the money that the PA pays as allowances (mukhassasat) to the prisoners, Martyrs' (Shahids') families, and wounded from the tax money that Israel collects for the PA. He said that they will continue to support them and will not submit to the Israeli pressure and blackmail.
Karake explained that the decision to transfer the allowances of the prisoners and Martyrs' families is in the PA's hands, and not in Israel's hands. However, if Israel will deduct large amounts from the tax money that it collects for the PA, that will influence the budget. He also noted that it is not only a financial matter, but also a legal [matter].
Karake added that the goal of the Israeli step is to delegitimize the struggle of the Palestinian people and present its legal struggle against the occupation as a criminal act, as if Israel is not an occupying state and anyone that resists it is a 'terrorist,' which contradicts international laws and human rights regulations.
Karake emphasized that it is the right of a people under occupation to resist it, and whoever is held captive is a freedom prisoner. In addition, he emphasized that the Palestinian people and the prisoners are under the authority of international law, and not under the authority of the occupation's laws."
[Wattan, independent Palestinian news agency, June 11, 2017]

Headline: "The prisoners' families in Gaza condemned the theft of the prisoners' allowances (mukhassasat) by the occupation"
"The prisoners' families condemned the racist Israeli decision to stop the prisoners' salaries (rawatib) (this refers to the Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation approving a bill to deduct a sum that equals the PA's terrorist salaries from taxes Israel collects for the PA. The bill has not yet been passed by the Israeli Parliament -Ed.). They emphasized that their sons are struggling for freedom, and they are prisoners of war and not criminals, and that Israel is the one that commits organized terror against our people, our holy sites, and our land...
Fatah Movement [General] Commissioner for Prisoners' Affairs [in Gaza] released prisoner Tayseer Al-Bardini explained that this decision and Israeli law are not something new, as the occupation is always trying to burden our people and the prisoners, and to put them on the terror list even though they are struggling for freedom, just as has been anchored in the international conventions on human rights.
He emphasized that the PA's role in opposing this decision is in providing the salaries to the prisoners and putting an emphasis on the prisoners' rights and their ongoing path of struggle."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, June 13, 2017]

Headline: "Tayseer Khaled: Israel returns to robbing and pouncing on the Palestinian tax money"
"PLO Executive Committee member and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) political bureau member Tayseer Khaled again emphasized the decision of the PLO Executive Committee in its latest meeting, which determined that the Palestinian National Fund (see note below -Ed.) will continue to stand by its national and humanitarian responsibility towards the families of the Martyrs (Shahids) and wounded of the Palestinian people and the families of the prisoners in the Israeli collective prisons. This is the responsibility that the National Fund has borne since its establishment in 1966, as the national institution appointed to take care of the interests of the victims of the Israeli occupation and the terror that the State of Israel has been committing against the members of the Palestinian people since the first day of its establishment.
These statements came in response to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation in the Israeli Parliament approving a bill (sic., the bill was approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation under the Israeli government. The bill has not yet been passed by the Israeli Parliament), according to which the allowances (mukhassasat) of the prisoners and their families and the families of the Palestinian Martyrs will be deducted from the tax money that the Israeli occupation state collects for the PA."
[Amad, independent Palestinian news website, June 12, 2017]

The following is an excerpt of US State Secretary Tillerson's statement that the PA intends to stop salaries to murderers:

Senator Jim Risch (R-ID): "Mr. Tillerson, those of us that sit on this committee and for that matter on an intelligence committee - one of the things, and I, this is not something that's a huge part of this budget, but, you know, there's money that goes to assistance to the Palestinian Authority, and the payments that have been made over the years from some of that money to the Palestinian Liberation Organization that they use to pay families of suicide bombers - I tell you that's like grating on a blackboard as far as a lot of us are concerned. I'm sure that's on your radar, and I realize that there's other sides of that as far as those payments into the West Bank or into Gaza, but this is something that really galls on us, and anything you can do about that would be greatly appreciated."

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson: "Well let me assure you, Senator, it was discussed directly when [PA] President [Mahmoud] Abbas made his visit with his delegation to Washington. The President [Donald Trump] raised it but then I had a bilateral, a much more detailed bilateral [meeting] with him later that day, and I told him: 'You absolutely must stop making payments to family members of, quote, "Martyrs."' I said [to Abbas] 'it's one thing to help orphans and children, but when you designate the payment for that act, that has to stop.' They [the PA] have changed their policy, at least I have been informed they have changed that policy, and they are, their intent is to cease the payments to the family members of those who have committed murder or violence against others. So, it is - we've been very clear with them that this is simply not acceptable to us. It is certainly not acceptable to the American people."

Jim Risch: "Well, and Mr. Abbas probably has something to say about the West Bank, but you get deep into Gaza, I don't know how much influence he's got there."

Rex Tillerson: "Well, and I would say in Gaza we are working with others who have provided assistance and funding into Gaza, much of which is, as you know, it's to relieve the humanitarian problem, rebuilding homes, hospitals, schools. But there's always a lot of leakage of that money. So we're working carefully with others as to how do you help, and the Israeli government is supportive of stabilizing Gaza by providing these type of humanitarian actions; we just can't have the money leaking in to the hands of those who would commit violence with it."

Jim Risch: "Thanks for the job you're doing. Thank you Mr. Chairman."

Senator Bob Corker (R-TN): "Thank you, I do want to thank you for bringing up the Taylor Force issue, and I just want to say to the committee that it's my hope that before we go home for August recess that we will have passed out of committee a Taylor Force-like piece of legislation to address that issue, so thank you for raising it."
[Public hearing on 2018 US State Department budget
at Senate Foreign Relations Committee on June 13, 2017]

 


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