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Why is the PA suddenly hiding its financial expenditures?

Maurice Hirsch, Adv. and Itamar Marcus  |

Since 2014, the PA Ministry of Finance had been publishing an annual anticipated budget in the first part of the year as well as monthly reports of actual expenditures in each budget category. Based on the PA's 2018 monthly reports, Palestinian Media Watch was able to expose that the PA spent at least 502 million shekels on salaries and other benefits to terrorist prisoners and released prisoners in 2018. A short time later the Israeli government announced that in order not to fund PA terror support, it was deducting the 502 million shekel from the tax transfers to the PA, divided into 12 monthly deductions of 42 million shekels.

Having understood that the financial transparency was used by PMW and then the Israeli government to see the precise amount the PA was spending to reward terrorist prisoners, the PA decided to hide these figures from the international community. The website of the PA Ministry of Finance, in place of the financial reports now has this announcement:

"Due to the contingency law and legal dependencies with the Israeli side, the financial reports were temporarily suspended."

This notice has appeared for at least 2 months.

Significantly, the donor countries to the PA have demanded full financial transparency as a condition for giving the PA financial support. Currently, the PA is suffering from a
self-imposed financial crisis due to its refusal to accept hundreds of millions of dollars a month that Israel has been sending it, and has turned to the international community asking them for additional financial aid.

Were the PA to publish today the current monthly budgetary report the international community would be horrified. They would see PA expenditures in all budget categories were slashed significantly in 2019,
except for the payments of salaries to terrorists and payment to so-called "Martyrs'" families, which will be the same or higher than last year. Whereas last year these two budget categories which include the financial support for terrorists were 7% of the PA budget, this year, as a result of the PA refusal to accept the tax revenues which account for 50% of its budget, the actual expenditures in these terror support categories will be a much greater percentage of PA expenses, possibly as high as 15%.

Would the international donors give money to the PA if they knew that such a high percentage of the PA expenses was for rewarding terror? Perhaps that's a second reason the PA has given up on transparency and is hiding its finances.

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