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Norwegian newspaper reports that Norwegian PM to discuss prisoner salaries from Norwegian aid with Abbas

Silje Rognsvåg  |
Norwegian newspaper reports that Norwegian PM to discuss prisoner salaries from Norwegian aid with Abbas

PMW note: During a debate in Norwegian parliament about the implications of Palestinian Media Watch's report "The PA's Billion Dollar Fraud," the Norwegian Foreign Minister promised to put pressure on Mahmoud Abbas at their meeting this week to stop paying salaries to terrorists. PMW's report shows that despite assurances that it had stopped paying salaries to terrorists, the PA continues to pay them, just by a circuitous route via the PLO.

The following article was translated from Norwegian by PMW:

Headline: "Brende to discuss prisoner salaries with Mahmoud Abbas"
By Silje Rognsvåg
“Israel: Norwegian Foreign Minister promises to pressure Abbas to stop the flow of money to Palestinians convicted of terror.
‘I think they should stop this program,’ says Foreign Minister Børge Brende (Conservatives).
For years, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has paid ‘salaries’ to Palestinians in Israeli prisons convicted of terror. ‘The worse the atrocity, the more money they get,’ emphasizes [MP] Hans Olav Syversen, acting parliamentary leader of the Christian Democrats.

Subsidizing terrorism
In Wednesday's question and answer session in [Norwegian] Parliament, Syversen asked Foreign Minister Brende what he will do with Norwegian aid funds to Palestinians in order to prevent the [PA] practice [of paying] prisoners' salaries.
‘It is not small amounts, it amounts to hundreds of millions annually,’ said Syversen.
‘It is our responsibility to ensure that the money Norway is giving is going to other things entirely than to subsidize terrorism, he continued…
‘The Palestinians themselves are best served by abolishing the prisoner salary program,’ says Brende. He promises to raise the issue with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during a meeting next week.
‘I promise [MP] Syversen that I won’t just [accept] a repetition of the guarantee that Norwegian aid funds are not used for this. I will also use this opportunity to tell President Abbas: With all the challenges they [the Palestinians] face, not least because of the lack of opportunities for development in the West Bank, it is in their own best interest to abolish this program for their own legitimacy’s sake,’ [Foreign Minister] Brende said.
Prisoners’ salaries were also a topic dealt with by the previous government. Then Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide received promises from President Mahmoud Abbas in 2014 that the payments would stop, but they have nevertheless continued, according to NRK TV.

Not cutting the aid
Brende stresses that it is important to support the Palestinians, and that prisoners' salaries also go to Palestinians who are in Israeli prisons for no reason. (This statement is incorrect. The PA has stipulated by law that all prisoners who have fought the “occupation” are entitled to a salary. –Ed.) However, it is unacceptable that ‘Norwegian aid funds are going to those who have committed criminal offenses.’
This is not the case, the Palestinian authorities have assured him. But tax revenues received by the PA can be spent as they wish.
Limiting [Norwegian] aid in order to prevent it from being indirectly used on prisoners’ salaries is still the wrong way to go, says Brende.
‘I think there are quite a few aid-receiving countries that have different programs that we do not agree with. So this becomes a demanding operation that we must think through carefully.’
‘I have not heard that other countries will stop transferring rightful tax revenues to the PA. But I promise, I will bring this up and increase pressure on the Palestinians, because this is not something that serves their cause,’ Brende said.

Progress Party critical
Labor supports Brende’s line, but he is facing opposition from the Progress Party in Parliament.
‘It's no secret that the Progress Party and I disagree with the foreign minister on this,’ says Jørund Rytman, Member of Parliament for the Progress Party and the head of ‘Friends of Israel in Parliament,’ to the Dagen.
‘The Progress Party believes this practice [of paying salaries to prisoners] and budget fraud should have consequences. If the Palestinian Authority and the PLO do not put an end to this, it should lead to a corresponding reduction in [Norwegian] aid funds,’ says Rytman.”