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Abbas: “Our position regarding the matter of the Martyrs and prisoners [salaries]… will not change”

Headline: "The [PA] president: We are determined to hold elections, and our position regarding the Martyrs and prisoners' salaries is firm and will not change"

Excerpt of a speech by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to the Palestinian leadership on Oct. 6, 2019 –Ed.

"For a long time, we have been suggesting to the Israelis [that we establish] technical committees to discuss the pending financial matters…

Recently, the Israeli government agreed that there be a technical committee or committee of experts to discuss this matter, so that the whole financial matter between us will be discussed from the start, and not from now, but rather retroactively. There is also an agreement in principle to reexamine the Paris Agreement (an Israeli-Palestinian economic agreement; see note below –Ed.) and discuss this agreement. They said [they would agree] if the government of France agrees, and we know that the government of France has no objection. Today [Oct. 6, 2019] the technical committees began discussing all of these financial matters, and on the basis of this agreement we took a sum of money from them that they had frozen, at a value of more than 2.5 billion [Israeli shekels] (i.e., referring to the Israeli Anti "Pay-for-Slay" Law to deduct terror salaries; see note below). We took 1.5 billion as a first payment from this money, but we must know that our position regarding the matter of the Martyrs and prisoners is firm and will not change. We will not back down from it. If the Israeli policy [of deducting money] continues, we will not agree under any circumstances that there be any financial connection between us in this matter.

I would like to relate to just two points here. The first is to thank all of our brother public employees… who throughout this long period, seven months, have suffered greatly…

Allah willing, their suffering will begin to ease, Allah willing, in the coming days…

I did not hear one complaint from anyone whose salary was cut… because the reason for the cut is a national reason connected to the Martyrs, prisoners, and wounded, and therefore all of the citizens have remained calm and quiet and accepted the existing situation – and this is worthy of appreciation and honor."

Paris Agreement – agreement on economic relations between Israel and the PLO, signed in Paris on April 29, 1994. Its main goal is to promote peace by establishing economic relations modeled on EU economic relations.

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]