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Is PA planning to deceive the US and donor countries – AGAIN?
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Is PA planning to deceive the US 
and donor countries - AGAIN? 
  • Palestinian sources say Mahmoud Abbas will continue paying Martyrs' families and prisoners, in order to satisfy Palestinians, but will hide it as "humanitarian and social aid to needy families," to satisfy donor countries
by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
 
The Palestinian Authority is planning once again to hide its approximately $300 million a year in payments to terrorist prisoners and the families of so-called "Martyrs," by continuing to reward terror but in a different framework, according to some Palestinian sources.
 
The first time the PA did this was in 2014 when the PA closed the PA Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs, which had paid the terrorist salaries, yet continued the payments through the PLO Commission of Prisoners' Affairs. After Palestinian Media Watch exposed the PA's deception in The PA's Billion Dollar Fraud, by documenting the money transfers from the PA to the PLO, the PA law mandating salaries to terrorists has been repeatedly condemned by the US and countries in Europe.

Now, with increasing pressure by the US and other donor countries for the PA to stop rewarding terror, the PA is looking for a new way to both accept the international demands and yet at the same time continue paying terrorists, according to some Palestinian sources.
 
Hassan Asfour, a former PA minister and current associate of Muhammad Dahlan, political adversary of Mahmoud Abbas, explained it as follows:
 
"Abbas, despite his initial objection [to the US demand to stop prisoner salary payments], has begun to examine practical options to comply with the American demand in a way that will not lead to an explosion that might lead to his downfall and the downfall of their [Abbas' and US'] joint plan. Among these options that are being examined with special secrecy, is the option of transferring the prisoners' and Martyrs' salaries to a 'social insurance' body so that it will look as if it is 'humanitarian and social aid to needy families' and not 'monthly salaries to fighter families.'"
[Fatah Voice, independent Palestinian news website, June 3, 2017]
 
Hamas' website Al-Risalah Net quoted "reliable" sources that the PA is planning to move the salary payments for terrorists into the Ministry of Interior. The PLO Commissioner of Prisoners' Affairs, Issa Karake, "denied knowing" of such a plan:
 
"Director of PLO Commission of Prisoners' Affairs Issa Karake denied knowing about the intention of [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas to abolish the commission and merge it with one of the main branches or offices of the Ministry of Interior."
[Ma'an, independent Palestinian news agency, June 18, 2017]
 
The Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam quoting Reuters wrote:
 
"'There have been talks about making the payments in a different way, but not ending them,' said one official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on discussions held with the Americans.
'They could perhaps be labeled differently,' he said, suggesting the description 'Martyr' could be dropped, but he added: 'They [the payments] are not going to be stopped.'"
[Reuters, June 14, 2017, Al-Ayyam, June 15, 2017]
 
Meanwhile, Chairman of the PA-funded Prisoners' Club Qadura Fares, denied there would be any changes:
 
"He emphasized that there is a Palestinian consensus that opposes any conditioning concerning this 'noble and fighter' group.
[Qadura] Fares said that the [PLO] Commission of Prisoners' Affairs is the one responsible for the matter of the prisoners, and no new orders have reached it regarding harming the salaries of the prisoners and the Martyrs' families.
He added: 'We are not aware that any decision of this sort has been made.'"
[Al-Ayyam, June 15, 2017]
 
Mahmoud Abbas faces a difficult dilemma. It was Abbas himself as leader of the PA who in 2011 raised the salaries to terrorist prisoners significantly, and PA leaders have repeatedly stated that rewarding the prisoners is a fundamental PA policy. Abbas has also refused to condemn Palestinian terror and his PA, as policy, routinely honors terrorists. On the other hand, Abbas wants the international community to see him as a peace-promoting moderate, which is not possible if he continues to be a terror supporter, by openly honoring and rewarding terror.
 
The following are longer excerpts of the reports mentioned above:
 
Headline: "Karake: We were not informed of the closure of the [PLO] Commission of Prisoners' Affairs"
"Director of PLO Commission of Prisoners and Released Prisoners' Affairs Issa Karake denied knowing about the intention of [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas to close the commission and merge it with one of the main branches or offices of the [PA] Ministry of Interior.
Karake said to [the independent Palestinian news] agency Ma'an: 'We were not informed about the intention of President Mahmoud Abbas and the leadership to freeze the activity of the [PLO] Commission of Prisoners and Released Prisoners' Affairs.'
The [Hamas] Al-Risalah Net website noted that according to Palestinian sources, which it described as 'reliable,' the president is inclined to close the [PLO] Commission of Prisoners and Released Prisoners' Affairs and merge it with one of the main branches or offices of the [PA] Ministry of Interior in the occupied West Bank."
[Ma'an, independent Palestinian news agency, June 18, 2017]
 
Headline: "Senior Palestinian officials emphasized the continued payment of the Martyrs and prisoners' allowances: There are no plans to stop them"
(The article begins with an Arabic translation of a Reuters article from June 14, 2017 -Ed.) "Palestinian officials say there are no plans to stop payments to families of Palestinians killed or wounded carrying out attacks against Israelis, contradicting comments by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Tillerson told a Senate hearing on Tuesday (June 13, 2017) he had received reassurances from [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas that the Palestinian Authority would end the practice of paying a monthly stipend to the families of suicide bombers and other attackers, commonly referred to by Palestinians as Martyrs (Shahids).
The issue of compensation has become a sticking point in efforts to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, with Israeli officials citing it as one reason they do not regard Abbas as a 'partner for peace.'
'They have changed their policy,' Tillerson said, referring to the Palestinians. 'At least I have been informed they've changed that policy and their intent is to cease payments.'
But Palestinian officials said they were not aware of any change and that it was unlikely a policy that has been a cornerstone of social support for decades would be altered.
'There have been talks about making the payments in a different way, but not ending them,' said one official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on discussions held with the Americans.
'They could perhaps be labeled differently,' he said, suggesting the description 'Martyr' could be dropped, but he added: 'They are not going to be stopped.'
(The following is not from the Reuters article -Ed.)
Chairman of the [PA-funded] Prisoners' Club Qadura Fares, in an interview with [Israeli Arab website] Arab 48, denied that there will be any harm to the allowances (mukhassasat) of the families of the prisoners and Martyrs. He emphasized that there is a Palestinian consensus that opposes any conditioning concerning this 'noble and fighting' group.
Fares said that the [PLO] Commission of Prisoners' Affairs is the one responsible for the matter of the prisoners, and no new orders have reached it regarding harming the salaries (rawatib) of the prisoners and the Martyrs' families.
He added: 'We are not aware that any decision of this sort has been made.'"
[Al-Ayyam, June 15, 2017]