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The UK-PA partnership to reward terrorists

Maurice Hirsch  |

The UK-PA partnership to reward terrorists

In order to create the impression of bona fide activities and to give the donor countries that needed it “plausible deniability” regarding the manner in which the funds were used.

August 13, 2019

For years, the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) knowingly funded the Palestinian Authority’s “pay for slay” terrorist reward policy.

Exposed in precise detail by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), the “pay for slay” policy is the system by which the PA pays monthly salaries to terrorist prisoners, including mass murderers, and allowances to wounded terrorists and the families of dead terrorists (so called “martyrs”), including suicide bombers.

Despite having positive knowledge that the PA used a considerable amount of its financial resources to implement its terrorism-rewarding policy, the DFID, via the World Bank, provided the PA, over a seven-year period, with over £430 million to be used as the PA saw fit. While DFID has adamantly claimed no UK funds were used to fund “pay for slay”, it did so relying on narrow audit reports that cannot and do not support its assertion.

Created in 2008, the World Bank’s Palestinian Recovery and Development Program – Multi-Donor Trust Fund (PRDP-MDTF) pooled the funds of multiple donor countries, including the UK, and provided steady and reliable quarterly cash flow to the PA. As the PRDP-MDTF clearly states, the donor funds were provided to the PA “untied and unearmarked.”

In order to create the impression of bona fide activities and to give the donor countries that needed it “plausible deniability” regarding the manner in which the funds were used, auditors were employed to follow the cash flow.

However, closer examination of PRDP-MDTF documentation, including already publicly available materials, shows the opaque nature of both the program itself and the complicity of its donors.

The audits, which had particularly narrow terms of engagement, merely show that the PRDP-MDTF funds were transferred into a general budget account of the PA. The PA’s general budget is the source for the funding of “pay for slay.”

The audits did not examine what use the PA made of the funds and did not track how much of the donor funding was allocated by the PA, as part of its general budget, for “pay for slay.”

While the full extent of the program was exposed only in 2011 by PMW, both DFID and the World Bank knew the details of “pay for slay” prior to the creation of the PRDP-MDTF.

Already in 2007, a World Bank report provided clear details of the policy. Referring to the monthly PA salary payments to the terrorists, the report said that it is “the most generous PA program. It is also the most expensive social protection program....” As regards the payments to the wounded terrorists and the families of the dead terrorists, the report said that “as a safety net program, the Fund for Families of Martyrs and the Injured is generous” and that “the level of resources devoted to the Fund for Martyrs and the Injured does not seem justified from a welfare or fiscal perspective.”

Accordingly, when the UK provided the PA with “untied and unearmarked” money, it had positive knowledge that it was effectively giving the PA the cash it needed to make its “pay for slay” payments.

WHEN KAY WILSON – the British-born Israeli survivor of a brutal 2011 machete attack that left her with multiple stab wounds and broken bones and left her close friend Kristine Luken dead – asked why the DFID was funding the financial rewards the PA pays to the two terrorists who attacked her, she was fobbed off with empty assurances of “robust safeguards” that ensure that no DFID funding went to “pay for slay.”

It is most likely the revelation that DFID had given baseless answers that motivated it to reject the requests of UK Lawyers for Israel to provide additional audit reports of the UK donations to the PRDP-MDTF.

Rejecting the position of DFID, the UK information commissioner recently ruled to force DFID to divulge the additional documentation. In doing so the commissioner also rejected the argument made by DFID that it had “consulted the PA about the request and the PA had made it clear that it did not consent to this information being disclosed.”

In the decision, the commissioner ruled that “whilst disclosure of the withheld information will not provide the full picture regarding the auditing of these particular funds, it will contribute towards it, which, given the concerns about how such funds may have allegedly been used, the commissioner considers to be a compelling argument.”

Unless they positively seek to be party to the program, international donors should stop ignoring the repeated statements by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who has said that “even if we have only a penny left, it will only be spent on the families of the martyrs and the prisoners, and only afterwards will it be spent on the rest of the people,” and should condition any aid to the PA, as does the United States, on the abolition of “pay for slay.”

The writer is the head of legal strategies for Palestinian Media Watch. He served for 19 years in the IDF Military Advocate-General Corps. In his last position he served as director of the Military Prosecution in Judea and Samaria. Tweets @mauricehirsch4