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PMW's Role in Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Salaries to Terrorist Prisoners

Itamar Marcus and Maurice Hirsch  |
PMW plays active role in Israel's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee debate drafting legislation to reduce Israeli tax transfers to PA
because of PA's payment of salaries to terrorists
  • Palestinian terrorists have admitted that the payment of the salaries by the PA served as motivation to carry out terror attacks.

  • The PA salaries to terrorists were used to purchase weapons that were used in a terror attack resulting in the death of Malachi Rosenfeld and the injury of others.

  • Since exposing the PA's practice of paying salaries to terrorists in 2011, PMW had been instrumental in changing the approach of foreign governments.

  • New Israeli legislation being discussed would penalize the PA by reducing the sum that it pays to terrorists and their families from the taxes Israel collects on the PA's behalf.
By Itamar Marcus and Maurice Hirsch, Adv.

Palestinian Media Watch played an active role in the hearing last week in the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of Israel's parliament discussing legislation to deduct from the tax revenues that Israel transfers to the PA, the amount the PA pays in funding to terrorists and their families.

Recognizing PMW's expertise since it first exposed this PA practice and from years of researching the subject, PMW was the only non-government organization to appear before the Committee discussing the new legislation. To date the committee has held three hearings, all attended by PMW. During the first two hearings, PMW gave extensive presentations that included specific examples of terrorists who attributed their terrorist actions to the PA salaries; specific proof that withholding the taxes resulted in a reduction of the terrorist salaries; examples of the decisions of foreign governments demanding that their donations to the PA not be used to pay the terrorist salaries; and comprehensive details and figures regarding the payments themselves.

In addition to PMW, present at last week's hearing was Shai Maimon, who was himself injured in a Palestinian terror attack. He told the committee that according to the indictment of the terrorists involved in the attack, the weapons used in the terror attack in which Malachi Rosenfeld was murdered and he was injured, were purchased using money that the terrorist received in prison as salary from the PA.

Maimon explained that in 2003, during his Israeli military service, he participated in the capture of Hamas terrorist Ahmed Najar. Despite being convicted of six counts of murder, Najar was released from prison as part of the 2011 deal to free IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, kidnapped by the Hamas.

Once released from prison, Najar returned to terror. He financed the purchase of weapons by instructing his brother to withdraw 10,000 Shekel from his bank account that had accrued from payments he received from the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners. Maimon explained that the terrorist who injured him was the same terrorist who he had captured during his military service, but has been released in the Shalit exchange.

Thanks to PMW's work for years with the international community since PMW first exposed the PA practice of paying salaries to terrorists in prison, by now the PA payments are common knowledge and many governments have changed funding behavior. The Israeli government is now suggesting legislation that would fight this practice shekel for shekel.
  • Palestinian terrorists in jail receive a salary, starting at 1,400 Shekel ($401) per month, which rises according to time spent, to 12,000 Shekel ($3,438) per month.
  • In addition, families of terrorist "Martyrs," as well as the injured, receive a lifetime stipend starting at 1,400 Shekel ($401) per month, with a one-time payment of 6,000 Shekel ($1,662) paid immediately. 

In 2017, the PA devoted 7%, over $350,000,000, of its entire budget to fund these payments to terrorists and their families.

While the PA committed itself in the Oslo peace accords to combat terrorism, it is clear that these payments are not only a substantial incentive to carry out terrorist attacks, but as Shai Maimon's statement clarified, they are directly being used to purchase weapons for terror.

In the same Oslo agreements, Israel agreed to relinquish the taxes for imports to the PA controlled areas in favor of the PA, but continues to collect these taxes on its behalf. According to information provided to the Knesset by the Israeli Finance Ministry, Israel collects almost 700,000,000 Shekels ($200,000,000) a month in taxes and transfers a monthly payment of 600,000,000 shekels (after deducting debts of the PA).

The new legislation would empower the Israeli Authorities to deduct a sum equivalent to the annual expenditure of the PA on salaries to terrorists from the payments.

Despite the accumulative pressure, the PA is insistent on continuing this practice.

On June 5, 2017, and in response to the demand of US President Donald Trump during his meeting with Mahmoud Abbas, the official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida reported that the Director of PLO Commission of Prisoners' Affairs, Issa Karake, "viewed the appointment of Karim Younes (i.e., terrorist, murdered 1) as a member of the Fatah Central Committee as a response from the Fatah leadership to the occupation, and as an expression of its adherence to the prisoners' issue and of its firm opposition to the pressures that are being exerted on the Palestinian leadership to stop paying the salaries of the prisoners and Martyrs."

On June 16, 2017, the official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida added that Karake said, "the Palestinian leadership, [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas, and the Palestinian people will not submit to these pressures"

On Aug. 13, 2017, the PLO Executive Committee, which is headed by Abbas, responded to the US legislation (The Taylor Force Act) which conditions US aid on cancelling the PA's practice of paying salaries to terrorists. A post on Mahmoud Abbas' Facebook page stated:

"The [PLO] Executive Committee condemned the legislators of the American Congress and their positions towards the Palestinian people... and sees the American Senate Committee on Foreign Relations' approval of stopping American aid to the PA - if it does not stop the aid to the families of the Martyrs (Shahids) and prisoners - as an unacceptable act." 
At the end of the hearing, Israeli parliamentary committee decided to meet again in three weeks and vote on language of the legislation that would be sent to the Knesset for approval.
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