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The EU is again helping the PA pay salaries to terrorists

Maurice Hirsch, Adv.  |

The PA Minister of Social Development, Ahmed Majdalani, announced that tomorrow, Dec. 24th, the PA will pay allowances to 115,000 poor families and that the European Union has contributed 54% of the cost of the benefits. In parallel, the head of the PA funded Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs, Qadri Abu Bakr, attempted to deflect the international criticism of the PA’s terror reward payments to Palestinian terrorists, claiming that the PA only pays the terrorists to “ensure a minimal standard of living.”

While it may seem logical to conclude that since the PA, for PR purposes, is now defining the terrorist prisoners’ families as people in need of social welfare, and since the EU is contributing 54% of the current social welfare benefits, the EU is directly contributing to the PA payment of terror rewards to terrorist prisoners. While this conclusion is false, the EU is, nonetheless, again providing the PA with the support it needs, in order to continue paying financial rewards to terrorist prisoners.

Announcing the intention to pay the allowances to the needy and the EU contribution, Majdalani explained:

“On Thursday [Dec. 24, 2020] the [PA] Ministry [of Social Development] will pay the allowances of the poor families who are benefiting from the cash transfer program… The amount of the allowances that will be transferred in this payment stands at 136,151,268 [Israeli] shekels, and 115,000 families will benefit from it…
The [PA] government’s participation in this payment stands at 44% of the total amount, and… the European Union (EU) is participating at a rate of 56% of the total amount.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Dec. 21, 2020]

Just days prior to Majdalani’s announcement, Abu Bakr met with French Consul General in Jerusalem, René Troccaz, and asked that France reject the Israeli definition of Palestinian terror as a crime. Referring to the PA’s terror reward policy, Abu Bakr added:

“The climax of the Israeli attack today is the prisoners’ salaries. The occupation with all its institutions is working to harm the Palestinian prisoners’ image by using a stereotype that has no connection to reality and is based on a false claim. This [stereotype, defining Palestinian prisoners as terrorists] is baseless nonsense. The [accurate classification] is anchored in the law regularizing the payment of the salaries of the prisoners and their families.

The Palestinian prisoners are prisoners of liberation movements to which the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions apply, and their struggle is legitimate and guaranteed by all the international conventions and laws. The goal of the money that is being given to them and their families is to ensure a minimal standard of living, and the occupation state’s harming of this money is a despicable crime.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Dec. 16, 2020]

Since Abu Bakr claims that the PA payments to the terrorist prisoners are merely to “ensure a minimal standard of living”, one might conclude that every one of the terrorist prisoners paid by the PA comes from a needy Palestinian family. It would be similarly reasonable to deduce that since the EU is paying 54% of the PA benefits to the Palestinian needy, the EU is directly, and knowingly, paying benefits to terrorists.

In fact, none of the EU contribution for social welfare will go directly to pay salaries to terrorist prisoners, inter alia, for the following reasons:

  1. Neither the Palestinian terrorists nor their families are included in the 115,000 needy Palestinian’s mentioned by Majdalani.
  2. While the needy Palestinians receive their benefits from the PA Ministry of Social Development, the payments to the terrorist prisoners are made through the PA funded Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs.
  3. According to Majdalani, the 115,000 needy Palestinian families will share the 136,151,268 shekels allocated for their support. If one divides the total amount allocated by the number of recipient families, the result would be that each family would receive, on average, 1,183 shekels. This sum is considerably lower than the lowest basic salary paid by the PA to the Palestinian terrorist prisoners, which currently stands at 1,400 shekels a month to each terrorist prisoner. In the PA, it is more financially beneficial to be a terrorist than it is to be needy. Indeed, in many cases, it is more financially beneficial to be a terrorist than to earn an honest living.    

In truth, as Palestinian Media Watch has already conclusively demonstrated, there is no connection between the PA’s terror reward policy and social welfare needs.

This conclusion however, does not free the EU of responsibility.

When the EU substantially shoulders the burden of providing for the “Palestinian needy”, it allows the PA to use its own funds in order to pay the terror rewards. Money is fungible.

The concept that aid provided to the PA is completely fungible was clearly explained by PA Prime Minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, in response to the decision of Norway to cut aid to the PA due to the noxious content of the PA schoolbooks:

“If some want to link their aid to us with this, then we will finance the printing of our books from the water, telecommunications, and electricity bills if necessary.”

[Website of the Palestinian Government, Dec. 14, 2020]  

While the international community supports the Palestinian needy, supports the PA educational system and shoulders part of the burden of paying salaries to the PA’s legitimate employees, the PA is free to use its own funds to reward Palestinian terrorists.  

Needless to say, there is no validity whatsoever to the PA argument that the prosecution and imprisonment of Palestinian terrorists is in breach of either the Third or Fourth Geneva conventions.

The Third Geneva Convention deals with Prisoners of War. While the PA constantly claims that all the terrorists were sent by the PA and should be seen as “prisoners of war” - i.e. soldiers of the PA - when cross-examined in court, even the ex-PA Minister of Prisoners, Ashraf Al-Ajrami, admitted, that only a miniscule amount, if any, of the terrorist prisoners could legitimately warrant the title “Prisoner of War”.
 
The Fourth Geneva Convention (GCIV) specifically provides for establishing military courts and for the prosecution of terrorists [Article 66]. The PA claim that its terror reward payments are protected by GCIV are similarly baseless. While certain provisions of GCIV do discuss the idea of making payments to “internees” this term does not include terrorists who are standing trial, convicted, or released from prison, and likewise not to the families of dead terrorists. The only “internees” held by Israel are Palestinian terrorists held in administrative detention in accordance with Article 78 of GCIV, and Israel entirely fulfills all its obligations vis-a-vis these “internees.”

The following are longer excerpts of some of the articles mentioned above:

Headline: “Majdalani: The allowances of the poor families will be paid on Thursday in all districts of the homeland”

“[PA] Minister of Social Development Ahmed Majdalani said that on Thursday [Dec. 24, 2020] the [PA] Ministry [of Social Development] will pay the allowances of the poor families who are benefiting from the cash transfer program in all districts of the homeland. In a press release yesterday, Sunday, Majdalani added that the amount of the allowances that will be transferred in this payment stands at 136,151,268 [Israeli] shekels, and 115,000 families will benefit from it, including approximately 80,000 families in the Gaza Strip that will receive 106 million shekels, and approximately 35,000 families in the West Bank that will receive 30 million shekels.

He explained that the [PA] government’s participation in this payment stands at 44% of the total amount, and that the European Union (EU) is participating at a rate of 56% of the total amount.

Majdalani thanked the EU for its ongoing support for the social protection program in the shadow of the political and monetary challenges with which the State of Palestine is dealing.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Dec. 21, 2020]

Ahmed Majdalani also serves as Secretary-General of the terror organization Palestinian Popular Struggle Front (PPSF), PLO Executive Committee member, and head of the PLO Department of Labor and Planning.

Headline: “Abu Bakr: We hope that France will play a role in stopping the occupation’s crimes against our prisoners”

“Director of [PLO] Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs Qadri Abu Bakr asked French Consul General in Jerusalem René Troccaz for France to play a significant and serious role in stopping the occupation’s crimes against our prisoners and their families, and not to accede to the demands of the occupation government, which is striving to define the struggle of the Palestinian people and its prisoners as a crime.

While receiving Troccaz yesterday [Dec. 15, 2020], Abu Bakr noted that in recent years there has been an unprecedented increase in the scope of the crime against the prisoners in the Israeli occupation’s prisons: medical crimes, break-ins [to their cells], assaults, fines, and negating most of the human rights and rights to a living with an entire system that was formulated by extremist Israeli politicians and military officials, in order to turn the lives of the prisoners and their families into hell.

He added: ‘The climax of the Israeli attack today is the prisoners’ salaries. The occupation with all its institutions is working to harm the Palestinian prisoners’ image by using a stereotype that has no connection to reality and is based on a false claim. This [stereotype, defining Palestinian prisoners as terrorists] is baseless nonsense. The [accurate classification] is anchored in the law regularizing the payment of the salaries of the prisoners and their families.’

Abu Bakr emphasized that the Palestinian prisoners are prisoners of liberation movements to which the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions apply (sic., see note below), and he noted that their struggle is legitimate and guaranteed by all the international conventions and laws. He added that the goal of the money that is being given to them and their families is to ensure a minimal standard of living, and that the occupation state’s harming of this money is a despicable crime.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Dec. 16, 2020]