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PA budget reports differ from Arabic to English

Maurice Hirsch, Adv. and Itamar Marcus  |

Is this accidental or the PA’s attempt to deceive the international community?

Every month, the Palestinian Authority publishes a monthly budget performance reports in Arabic, and for the international donor community a translation is published in English. The Arabic and English reports with hundreds of entries should be identical, which they are, except for one item in all the reports since February 2020: the Arabic includes the budget entry “Commission for Prisoners and Released” - which ostensibly documents the PA salaries to terrorists – while this entry is missing from the English.

This is the Arabic chart with PMW’s translation

This is the English chart as it appears on the PA website

Note the fourth sub-category which is in the Arabic - “Commission for Prisoners and Released Prisoners” - is missing in the English

Why would the PA translate everything in its monthly report except for this one line?
Palestinian Media Watch’s reports on the PA’s paying salaries to terrorists has brought the outrage of the international community against the PA, and four countries have completely cut off funding the PA. Could it be that the PA has translated everything in its monthly reports except for that one line because it would rather the donor countries not see that they are continuing to spend hundreds of millions of shekels each month to reward terrorists?


This is not all that is strange about this entry in the PA’s reports.

Even though the PA has listed the words “Commission of Prisoners and Released Prisoners” in the Arabic budget, the report does not show the PA expenditure. There are hundreds of entries in this report and the amount that is clearly missing is the amount given to pay salaries to terrorists.

And there is something even more intriguing. The only way PMW figured out that the amount spent on salaries to terrorists was missing was by comparing the Arabic chart to the English chart: the Arabic chart has a mistake - accidental or intentional - that makes it seem to Arabic readers that the PA spent nearly 908 million shekels on salaries to terrorists in the first half of 2020, a figure much higher than the entire PA expenditure in 2019.

Below is a copy of the Arabic chart as it appears. The bottom line on the right says “Commission for Prisoners and Released Prisoners” which corresponds to the column with the amount 907.779 million shekels:

However when looking at the bottom line of the English budget report (below) the 907.799 million shekels was clearly the expenditure for the “Retirees Pension Allowances.” However, in the Arabic report (above) Pensions appears above Prisoners as a mere 3 million shekel:

How did the PA create this discrepancy?

When comparing the Arabic next to the English (see chart below) it is clear what the PA did with the graphics to make it seem like there is a shekel figure for the Commission of Prisoners:

In the English under the category “9. Education” (see yellow on right) there are two subcategories: the Ministry of Education (green) 1.3 billion and Ministry of Higher Education (no color) 56 million. However, in the Arabic under the category “9. Education” there is only one subcategory: the Ministry of Education (green, left) 1.3 billion. The words “Ministry of Higher Education” are missing but its budget row of 56 million is still there (see pink) but now incorrectly lining up with “10. Social protection.”

As a result, all the correct budget numbers are only in the English (right column) whereas in the Arabic (left) only the first two figures are correct and all the others are misaligned. The PA then added the words on the bottom left “Commission for Prisoners and Released Prisoners” (no color) opposite the figure 907 million which is, infact, really for Retirees Pensions.

Both of these distortions have been repeated in all the PA’s monthly reports since February 2020. It is impossible to know conclusively if these discrepancies between the Arabic and the English were done intentionally by the PA to misrepresent its reports. However since this entry about salaries to terrorists is the only item in its budget in which the English and Arabic are different, and since salaries to terrorists is also the one item that has brought condemnation from the international community it certainly raises the suspicion that this was intentional.

If having different reports in English and Arabic was a PA attempt at deception, it accomplishes two important goals. The international community sees a report in English in which there is no listing for payments to the Commission of Prisoners, which makes the donor countries happy. The Palestinians see a report in Arabic, which lists hundreds of millions of shekels to the Commission of Prisoners, which makes Palestinians happy. As noted above, both these Arabic and English entries are false, but as PMW has shown repeatedly, for the PA accomplishing political goals has always superseded concern for truth.

Finally, is it not the case that the PA gave in to international demands and stopped paying salaries to terrorists. The Director of the Commission of Prisoners Qadri Abu Bakr himself told Palestinian TV that all the salaries continue to be paid in 2020:

“Regarding the salaries, everything was perfect [yesterday]… We haven’t received a single call [of complaint] from any prisoner. They (i.e., family members) went to the banks and it was paid to them.”

[Official PA TV, Giants of Endurance, July 9, 2020]