PA prioritizes salaries to terrorists
over medical care for Palestinians
- PA to stop giving Palestinians medical care in Israel which cost them $100 million a year, because Israel cut from the PA what the PA spends on terrorists' salaries - $138 million a year.
by Maurice Hirsch, Adv. and Itamar Marcus
Until now Israel has been giving medical treatment in Israel to thousands of Palestinians every year. But this humanitarian program will now come to an end, as the Palestinian Authority has decided to stop sending its citizens in need of medical treatment to Israel. The PA's explanation is as follows: Since Israel is refusing to transfer approximately $138 million to the PA this year that the PA spends on salaries to terrorists, the PA will no longer permit Palestinians to travel for medical treatment in Israel, for which the PA has to pay. Until now, it has been costing the PA about $100 million a year to cover the medical costs. In essence, the PA has decided to punish its own citizens in need of medical treatment which costs $100 million a year, because it lost $138 million that it pays to terrorists in Israeli prisons and released terrorist prisoners. Israeli law is explicit that should the PA stop paying salaries to terrorists, Israel could release and return all this money to the PA.
In 2015, the last year for which there are public records, over 102,000 Palestinians were granted permits to enter Israel for treatment, including over 20,000 Palestinians who received medical treatment in Israeli hospitals.
PA Ministry of Health Spokesman Osama Al-Najjar explained the cessation of medical referrals to the Israeli hospitals, starting from March 26, 2019, as follows:
"This decision was made in response to the deduction of sums [Israel transfers] from the taxes that [Israel] collects each month for the Palestinian coffers. He added that the cost of the referrals to the Israeli hospitals is $100 million a year."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 27, 2019]
Stressing that the change of policy was not based on the desire to improve the medical care for Palestinians, Al-Najar added that: "The decision is political par excellence, and comes in response to Israel deducting sums from the money that it collects for us."
Shortly after the murder of Israeli Ori Ansbacher in February 2019, Israel's cabinet decided to deduct 502 million shekels ($138 million) from the tax revenues Israel collects and transfers to the PA. Palestinian Media Watch had exposed that $138 million was the amount the PA admitted to paying in 2018 to terrorist prisoners and released prisoners.
Significantly, the current decision is in addition to the PA decision to cut the salaries of its civil servants, as a result of the financial crisis the PA is inflicting on itself.
Seen in their entirety, the decisions of the PA, stating the implementation of Israel's Anti "Pay for Slay law" as the major reason for the changes in policy, clearly demonstrate the PA's priorities - the continued payment of the salaries to the Palestinian terrorist prisoners and released prisoners is more important than providing sick Palestinians with the opportunity to receive medical treatment in Israeli hospitals, or the right of its law-abiding non-terrorist employees to receive their full wages.
Realizing the hardships and medical crises this will inflict on its population, the PA added to its announcement that it will find "find alternatives for the sick in the state hospitals and in private hospitals."
The following is the announcement from the PA Ministry of Health:
"[PA] Ministry of Health Spokesman Osama Al-Najjar announced the cessation of medical referrals to the Israeli hospitals, starting from yesterday [March 26, 2019].
Al-Najjar explained that this decision was made in response to the deduction of sums from the taxes that [Israel] collects each month for the Palestinian coffers (refers to Anti "Pay-for-Slay" Law to deduct terrorist salaries; see note below -Ed.). He added that the cost of the referrals to the Israeli hospitals is $100 million a year, and emphasized that the Ministry of Health will be committed to find alternatives for the sick in the state hospitals and in private hospitals. He also said that they are discussing additional alternatives, in case there will be a need for them.
Al-Najjar calmed our people that this decision will not affect the health services that they receive, and that the ministry is committed to providing the necessary treatment to all who need it.
Al-Najjar said: 'The decision is political par excellence, and comes in response to Israel deducting sums from the money that it collects for us.'"
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 27, 2019]
Israel's Anti "Pay-for-Slay" Law - Israeli law stating that the PA payments to terrorists and the families of dead terrorists is a financial incentive to terror. The law instructs the state to deduct and freeze the amount of money the PA pays in salaries to imprisoned terrorists and families of "Martyrs" from the tax money Israel collects for the PA. Should the PA stop these payments for a full year, the Israeli government would have the option of giving all or part of the frozen money to the PA.
The law was enacted by the Israeli Parliament on July 2, 2018, and its first implementation was approved by Israel's Security Cabinet on Feb. 17, 2019, when it decided to withhold 502,697,000 Israeli shekels (approximately $138 million) from the PA. In response, the PA announced it would not accept any of the tax money collected by Israel unless it also included the frozen amount.
During the initial parliamentary vote in 2018, the law's sponsor Avi Dichter said: "The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee received much help in its deliberations... from Palestinian Media Watch who provided us with authentic data that enabled productive and professional deliberations, nuances that are very difficult to achieve without precise data." [Israeli Parliament website, July 2, 2018]