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The PA’s fixation with paying for terror

Nan Jacques Zilberdik  |

PA TV broadcast Abbas 155 times in 2019, saying:
“The Martyrs and their families are sacred,
[and so are] the wounded and the prisoners.
We must pay all of them.
If one penny remains in our hands it is for them”

  • Abbas in 2020: “We vow to our honorable Martyrs and heroic prisoners… we will pay the prisoners, no matter what they [the Israelis] want”

 

Which video did official PA TV rebroadcast more than any other in 2019?

- Mahmoud Abbas’ vow that even if the PA is left with only “one penny,” it will be paid in salaries to terrorists and murderers.

The PA is so fixated with rewarding terror that PA TV broadcast a TV filler of Abbas vowing to pay terror salaries no less than 172 times, 155 times in 2019 alone:

Abbas: “I say this to everyone – the salaries of our Martyrs, prisoners, and wounded are a red line… From 1965 until now, this matter is sacred to us. The Martyrs and their families are sacred, [and so are] the wounded and the prisoners. We must pay all of them. If one penny remains in our hands it is for them and not for the living.”

[Official PA TV, at least 17 times in 2018 from Nov. 16 - Dec. 17, 2018, and at least 155 times in 2019, latest Oct. 17, 2019]

And Abbas hasn’t stopped. In a speech last week, when he announced that the PA no longer sees itself as bound by any agreements with Israel, Abbas repeated that the PA will continue rewarding terrorists:

Abbas: “We vow to our honorable Martyrs and heroic prisoners – [The Israelis] have asked the banks not to pay the prisoners, [but] we will pay the prisoners, no matter what they [the Israelis] want.”

[Official PA TV, Abbas’ original speech on May 19, 2020,
filler 5 times on May 20, 2020]

The PA goes out of its way to tell its people and the world that there is no more valuable way to use Palestinian money, including donor money, than to reward terrorists. Despite international condemnation, despite losing funding of several donor countries, and despite Israel's withholding of PA tax money equal to what the PA spends rewarding terrorists, the PA's repeated refrain is that NOTHING WHATSOEVER will make them stop.

And it’s not just Abbas. PA PM Muhammad Shtayyeh stressed again earlier this month that these rewards to Palestinian terrorists are “a sacred matter,” responding to the uproar in the PA following Palestinian Media Watch’s letter reminding Palestinian banks that from May 9, 2020, it would be a criminal offense for banks and their employees to process terrorist prisoners’ and released prisoners’ salaries.

PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh: “Israel surprised us with a decision by the military governor regarding the monetary allowances of the prisoners and their accounts in the banks. Last year [2019], Israel deducted from our monetary rights more than 700 million [Israeli] shekels, which is the amount of the allowances for the prisoners, the Martyrs, and their relatives. Now Israel is launching a campaign of intimidation, in a so-called ‘‘legal’’ framework, against the banks. I emphasize: In our point of view, the prisoners’ allowances are a sacred matter, and Israel’s measures against them do not intimidate us… We and the banks are making a general appeal and searching for solutions that will protect the prisoners’ allowances on the one hand, and protect the banks from the occupation’s threats on the other.”

[Facebook page of PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh, May 11, 2020]

Whatever Abbas is telling international donors who object to the PA paying terrorist salaries, they should only listen to what he and other PA leaders say repeatedly in Arabic to Palestinians – that the terrorist salaries will continue no matter what.

The following dialogue shows that the Palestinian people listens to and believes in Abbas’ promises:

Official PA TV host: “We always promise that our prisoners are the voice of our conscience… and that this money – as His Honor [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas has said, if one penny is left it will be for our male and female prisoners.”

Released prisoner Alaa Fuqaha: “… Brother Mahmoud Abbas – may Allah grant him a long life – has already said that this cause touches on the conscience of the Palestinians wherever they are, and if we are left with one penny we will pay it to the prisoners, Martyrs, and wounded.”

[Official PA TV, Giants of Endurance, May 10, 2020]

Among the many times that Abbas has pledged to continue rewarding terror, one period in particular stands out. The PA was in the middle of a self-imposed financial crisis in the fall of 2019, because Abbas refused to accept hundreds of  millions of shekels a month in tax money from Israel, because Israel deducted 42 million a month that the PA pays to terrorist prisoners. As a result, the PA was forced to cut all government employees’ salaries, yet Abbas did not cut the prisoners’ salaries. He pledged: “If we are left with one penny, we will give it to their families”:

Abbas: “We will not agree to accept the [tax] money with a deduction of one penny, and especially a deduction from the Martyrs, because the Martyrs are the most sanctified among us, and because the wounded are the most sanctified among us, and because the prisoners are the most sanctified among us. Therefore, it cannot be that we would abandon them, it cannot be that we would abandon their families, and if we are left with one penny, we will give it to their families.”

[Official PA TV, Sept. 11, 2019]

Less than a month later, still in financial crisis, Abbas repeated the promise:

Abbas: “A blessing is sent to our loyal Martyrs, our prisoners, and their families who are standing firm and bearing their suffering with patience. And we say to them, to the families of the Martyrs, that we will defend their rights regardless of the price we’ll have to pay. I won’t submit to what Israel has requested. I won’t submit. Even if I’m left with one penny, I’ll pay it to the families of the Martyrs, to the prisoners , and to the wounded, and I won’t withhold this from them.”
Text on screen: “We will defend the rights of the Martyrs and prisoners”

[Official PA TV News, Oct. 1, 2019]

And again two days later:

Abbas: “The money of the Martyrs, wounded, and prisoners is still in Israel’s hands… We have told them that any solution that excludes the Martyrs, wounded, and prisoners – forget about it completely… It is also absolutely impossible that we would relinquish the most sanctified thing we have, and that is the Martyrs, wounded, and prisoners.”

[Official PA TV News, Oct. 3, 2019]

And yet again the next month:

Abbas: “Israel came and said that the Martyrs are criminals, terrorists, and murderers. Shame on you Israel! We will never agree to abandon our Martyrs… Our Martyrs, prisoners, and wounded are the most sanctified that we have. We will not agree to waive our money in full. Our Martyrs have a right to this money.”

[Official PA TV, Nov. 11, 2019]

And again in December, closing out 2019, Abbas reiterated his promise to continue paying salaries to “these heroes”:

Abbas: "We again emphasize that the cause of our prisoners, wounded, and Martyrs is a red line. We won’t agree to negotiations or bargaining over it, regardless of what the price may be. We will continue to pay the allowances of the families of the Martyrs and the prisoners as they are, even if [the allowances] are the last thing we have. This is our promise to these heroes."

[Official PA TV, Dec. 31, 2019]

As 2020 started, the US announced its Middle East peace plan, which demands that the PA stop rewarding terrorists. Abbas responded by vowing again to continue PA terror rewards:

Abbas: “I say to our Martyrs, our prisoners, and our wounded: Israel and the US have attempted to withhold our money that they collect… so that we would stop paying the prisoners, the wounded, and the Martyrs’ [families]. The prisoners, wounded, and Martyrs are the most sacred thing for us. By Allah, if one penny is left in our hands it will only be spent on the Martyrs, prisoners, and wounded.”

[Official PA TV, Jan. 28, 2020]

Even as the PA claims it is in financial distress following the Coronavirus epidemic, everyone at the PA top agrees that one area that is not going to be harmed or undergo any changes is the salaries to terrorists. PMW has documented that PM Shtayyeh even ordered that paying the terrorists be prioritized. The above statements are just a partial collection of the continuous statements by PA leaders, promising the priority of paying salaries to terrorists and murderers. The following are still more from 2020:

PM Shtayyeh ensures payments to terrorists will be made:

“Regarding the prisoners’ allowances and the banks, [PA Prime Minister Muhammad] Shtayyeh said: ‘… We will take care of the political, legal, and financial aspects of this matter in a manner that will ensure the payment of the prisoners’ allowances and the protection of the banks.’”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 17, 2020]

The PLO Executive Committee confirms terrorist salaries are “a sacred duty”:

“The PLO Executive Committee emphasized its support for the [PA] government’s steps to protect the banks and ensure the continued care for the prisoners, Martyrs, and their families, since this is the least to which we can adhere in order to honor their sacrifice and follow their path in order to achieve our people’s goals: freedom and independence… [The PLO committee said] that the care for the prisoners, Martyrs, and their families is a sacred duty, and that [PA] President [Mahmoud Abbas] has emphasized again and again that even if only one penny is left, he will pay it to them.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 17, 2020]

PLO official Abu Bakr states “public Palestinian position”: Terrorists are “heroes”:

“Director of [PLO] Commission of Prisoners and Released Prisoners’ Affairs Qadri Abu Bakr emphasized… that the salaries (rawatib) of the prisoners and released prisoners cannot be harmed… He added: ‘The public Palestinian position regarding the occupation’s theft and threats against the prisoners and their families is clear to everyone, because they are heroes who have sacrificed their lives for the freedom of our homeland and our people. They will not receive anything from us other than full loyalty… Abu Bakr demanded that all the banks that are active in Palestine bear responsibility towards this fighting sector and their families. [He added that] we as an entire Palestinian system must be together in the same trench, and we are receiving our instructions only from our Palestinian institutions and leadership.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 15, 2020]

PLO official Abu Bakr promises terrorist salaries will continue no matter what:

“Director of [PLO] Commission of Prisoners and Released Prisoners’ Affairs Qadri Abu Bakr emphasized that the salaries and rights of the prisoners, their families, and the released prisoners among them will naturally be transferred monthly.
Abu Bakr emphasized that the prisoners’ rights are anchored in law and at the highest levels, and said that the [PA] governmental office is committed to serving the prisoners and their relatives… and he said that the commission will seek all the possibilities to ensure the salaries reach the prisoners and released prisoners.”

[Facebook page of the PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs, May 8, 2020]

Fatah appreciates the PA’s adherence to paying financial rewards to terrorists:

Posted text: “The Fatah Movement Revolutionary Council… expressed its appreciation for the position of [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas, who always emphasizes that even if only one penny remains for us, we will pay it to the prisoners’ families. We express appreciation for the position of the [PA] government, which is working to continue paying our prisoners’ salaries and enable their families to live in dignity.”

[Official Fatah Facebook page, May 10, 2020]

Terrorist prisoners are “a crown on our heads” – Fatah official confirms PA leadership ideology of paying salaries to terrorists:

Fatah Central Committee member and PLO Central Council member Jamal Muhaisen: “This [application of Israel's Anti-Terror Law to the West Bank] is a decision by Israel as part of increased measures regarding the salaries of the prisoners and Martyrs. There is a clear response from [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas, the [PA] government, all the factions, and all of the Palestinian people that the prisoners and Martyrs are a crown on our heads. Therefore the salaries of the Martyrs and prisoners can’t be stopped, and certainly a stand will be taken against every Israeli measure.”

[Official PA radio station The Voice of Palestine, April 21, 2020]

The following are longer excerpts of the statements cited above:

Headline: “The [PLO] Executive Committee emphasizes its support for the [PA] government’s steps to ensure the continued care for the prisoners, Martyrs, and their families, and the protection of the banks”
“The PLO Executive Committee emphasized its support for the [PA] government’s steps to protect the banks and ensure the continued care for the prisoners, Martyrs, and their families, since this is the least to which we can adhere in order to honor their sacrifice and follow their path in order to achieve our people’s goals: freedom and independence.
In a statement that it published yesterday, Saturday [May 16, 2020], the committee mentioned the occupation’s threat against the banks that are active in Palestine and the request to close the bank accounts of the prisoners and their families (refers to the application of much of Israel's Anti-Terror Law to the West Bank, including rendering banks liable to punishment for facilitating PA terror salaries –Ed.)…
[The PLO committee said] that the care for the prisoners, Martyrs, and their families is a sacred duty, and that [PA] President [Mahmoud Abbas] has emphasized again and again that even if only one penny is left, he will pay it to them.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 17, 2020]

“Regarding the prisoners’ allowances and the banks (refers to the application of much of Israel's Anti-Terror Law to the West Bank, including rendering banks liable to punishment for facilitating PA terror salaries –Ed.), [PA Prime Minister Muhammad] Shtayyeh said: ‘We view this step as a restoration of the military rule over our land, our institutions, and our banks. This is a political decision of the highest order, and we will fight it. We have asked the banks not to obey [it] on their own, and they are obligated to this. We will take care of the political, legal, and financial aspects of this matter in a manner that will ensure the payment of the prisoners’ allowances and the protection of the banks.’”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 17, 2020]

Headline: “Abu Bakr: The prisoners’ salaries cannot be harmed and the banks must bear their national responsibility”
“Director of [PLO] Commission of Prisoners and Released Prisoners’ Affairs Qadri Abu Bakr emphasized yesterday, Thursday [May 14, 2020], that the salaries (rawatib) of the prisoners and released prisoners cannot be harmed, and there will be no significance to the so-called Israeli military decision (refers to the application of much of Israel's Anti-Terror Law to the West Bank, including rendering banks liable to punishment for facilitating PA terror salaries -Ed.). [He said:] We are prepared to confront all of the Israeli occupation’s decisions that strive to slander our prisoners’ struggle and their sacrifice.
He added: ‘The public Palestinian position regarding the occupation’s theft and threats against the prisoners and their families is clear to everyone, because they are heroes who have sacrificed their lives for the freedom of our homeland and our people. They will not receive anything from us other than full loyalty, and no military orders of the occupation will force us to harm the national, social, and human status of them and their families.’
Abu Bakr demanded that all the banks that are active in Palestine bear responsibility towards this fighting sector and their families. [He added that] we as an entire Palestinian system must be together in the same trench, and we are receiving our instructions only from our Palestinian institutions and leadership…
Abu Bakr demanded that the international community bear its responsibility towards our prisoners, given that they are prisoners of a liberation movement to whom the international conventions apply, and that it must be more decisive in monitoring the occupation’s crimes and holding it accountable. This is because the prisoners and released prisoners and the Palestinian people in its entirety will not be silent for long over this, and the situation is liable to explode at any moment.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 15, 2020]

Text posted on the official Fatah Facebook page

Posted text: “Ramallah – the Fatah Movement Revolutionary Council emphasized its complete opposition to the Israeli military order concerning the prisoners’ bank accounts (refers to the application of much of Israel's Anti-Terror Law to the West Bank, including rendering banks liable to punishment for facilitating PA terror salaries -Ed.), and it views the decision as a violation of all the political and economic agreements, and it puts an end to them. It announced that it will treat the decision as a decision to launch a war against the holiest national causes in the Palestinian consciousness and soul.
In a statement that it issued this evening, Saturday [May 9, 2020], the Revolutionary Council said that the new [Israeli] order constitutes a prelude to the decision to annex the [Jordan] Valley and the settlements, in accordance with ‘the deal of the century’ (i.e., refers to US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan). Our illustrious Palestinian people and its living forces will not allow the implementation of these kinds of orders, which express a mentality of Zionist, terrorist, and criminal occupation.
The council expressed its appreciation for the position of [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas, who always emphasizes that even if only one penny remains for us, we will pay it to the prisoners’ families. We express appreciation for the position of the [PA] government, which is working to continue paying our prisoners’ salaries and enable their families to live in dignity.

[The Revolutionary Council] praised the Palestinian banks that constitute an important economic sector in the homeland. We also express appreciation for their commitment to the official Palestinian national decisions. The Revolutionary Council expressed appreciation for the quick contact to the committee that was established to study this Zionist military decision in order to find a dignified solution and a system of treatment that will ensure our prisoners’ rights.
It demanded that the international community, which sponsored the agreements that have been signed with the occupation, do what is required of it and restrain the occupation, which is exploiting the Coronavirus epidemic in order to implement its diabolical plans against our heroic prisoners.
The Revolutionary Council expressed appreciation for the cooperation and role of Palestinian diplomacy in coordination with the official and civilian prisoners’ institutions in order to work intensively with the European Union (EU) states, the political parties that support our people’s rights, and the international community’s institutions in order to emphasize that our prisoners are prisoners of war and [prisoners of] freedom, and they are not terrorists. The Zionist occupation has been working intensively for years with the world’s states to criminalize our people’s struggle and present it as terror.
The Revolutionary Council called on all the national activity parties, the institutions dealing with the prisoners’ issue, and the national media outlets to make all efforts to support our people’s rights in dealing with the occupation and [for] the legitimacy of our struggle and sacrifice, and foremost among them the heroic Martyrs and prisoners.”

[Official Fatah Facebook page, May 10, 2020]

Posted text: “[Director of PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs Qadri] Abu Bakr: The continued payment of the prisoners’ salaries without taking into consideration the banks’ position

May 7, 2020

Director of [PLO] Commission of Prisoners and Released Prisoners’ Affairs Qadri Abu Bakr emphasized that the salaries and rights of the prisoners, their families, and the released prisoners among them will naturally be transferred monthly.
Abu Bakr emphasized that the prisoners’ rights are anchored in law and at the highest levels, and said that the [PA] governmental office is committed to serving the prisoners and their relatives without taking into consideration the Israeli position or the recent decision of the Palestinian banks vis-à-vis the released prisoners and the prisoners’ relatives. (Refers to banks that complied with the application of much of Israel's Anti-Terror Law to the West Bank, including rendering banks liable to punishment for facilitating PA terror salaries -Ed.)
Abu Bakr said that [the fact that] a number of banks have personally contacted the relatives of the prisoners and the released prisoners in order to freeze their accounts or withdraw their monetary balances – by which they are submitting to the Israeli threats – is something invalid.
He noted that the banks have not stood by what was agreed with them – the need to wait and take a uniform position regarding the Israeli threats. Before the end of the meetings between the two sides, [the banks] acted hastily and unacceptably vis-à-vis the prisoners’ families.
Abu Bakr mentioned the contacts that the Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs is managing with the leadership, the government, and the PLO in order to take care of the situation and respond to the Israeli decision, and he said that the commission will seek all the possibilities to ensure the salaries reach the prisoners and released prisoners.”

[Facebook page of the PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs, May 8, 2020]

Official PA TV program Giants of Endurance, hosting released prisoner Alaa Fuqaha – PMW was unable to determine the nature of his crimes

Official PA TV host: “I will start with what His Honor [PA] Prime Minister Dr. Muhammad Shtayyeh said about the agreement with the banks to freeze any process regarding the prisoners’ accounts (refers to PA’s response to the application of much of Israel's Anti-Terror Law to the West Bank, including rendering banks liable to punishment for facilitating PA terror salaries -Ed.). There will be no freeze currently on this matter, and the [PA] government will discuss the matter this week. I congratulate all our prisoners’ families who have always cooperated, and our people who have always cooperated to raise the voice of the prisoners, and we always promise that our prisoners are the voice of our conscience that is present despite all the occupation’s steps, and that this money – as His Honor [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas has said, if one penny is left it will be for our male and female prisoners.”

Released prisoner Alaa Fuqaha: “We condemn what is being implemented by some of the banking institutions in Palestine that are closing and freezing the Palestinian prisoners’ accounts, and [their] siding with the decision of the military governor in Beit El. In other words, my brother Samer, the Palestinian prisoners, Martyrs, and wounded are a red line, and brother Mahmoud Abbas – may Allah grant him a long life – has already said that this cause touches on the conscience of the Palestinians wherever they are, and if we are left with one penny we will pay it to the prisoners, Martyrs, and wounded. Therefore, we appreciate the position of brother President Mahmoud Abbas – may Allah grant him a long life – and warn against the outcome of being drawn after the decisions of the [Israeli] Civil Administration. We rejected this decision and launched [the first] Intifada in 1987 and 1988 (i.e., Palestinian wave of violence and terror against Israel, approximately 200 Israelis murdered, 1987-1993) and [the second Intifada] in 2000 (i.e., PA terror campaign 2000-2005, more than 1,100 Israelis murdered) against the decisions of the Civil Administration, and we do not want to return to the same old paradigm and enable entry for the same terrorist crime gangs to control, advise, and say [what to do] in our affairs.”

[Official PA TV, Giants of Endurance, May 10, 2020]

Israeli army legislation which applies parts of Israel's 2016 Anti-Terror Law to the West Bank (taking effect on May 9, 2020). The law prohibits numerous terror related offenses, including terror funding/rewarding and holds heads of terror organizations responsible for murder committed by members of the organization. The law criminalizes the provision of funds for or the payment of rewards for the commission of terrorist offenses, such as the salaries the PA pays to terrorist prisoners and released prisoners. The provision also applies to any person or body - such as a bank - that facilitates such funding or rewarding of terror offenses. Based on this last provision, PMW sent letters in April 2020 to the heads of banks in the PA areas warning them that they must freeze the accounts of terrorists and their proxies and transfer them to the Israeli army or face legal consequences.

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]