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Commentary Magazine on PA paying terrorists salaries

Evelyn Gordon  |
Palestinians Put Terrorists on Payroll,
with American Help

Evelyn Gordon

As Alana noted yesterday, President Barack Obama still seems to be waffling on Hamas, asserting in his AIPAC speech both that Israel can’t negotiate with a terrorist organization and that it must do so anyway. Yet really, why should he cavil at Hamas’s support for anti-Israel terror when the Palestinian Authority, to which the U.S. donates hundreds of millions of dollars a year, uses that money for the exact same purpose?

Last week, Palestinian Media Watch reported on a new PA law to grant a monthly salary plus various benefits to any Palestinian or Israeli Arab imprisoned in Israel on terrorism charges. The law was published in the official PA registry on April 13.

Lest anyone doubt that its purpose is specifically to reward people who murder Israelis, it creates a sliding scale under which prisoners serving longer sentences receive higher salaries. Since longer sentences obviously correlate to more serious crimes, that means the greater the crime, the greater the reward—a clear incentive to commit anti-Israel terror.

Starting from a base of NIS 1,400 (about $400) a month for prisoners serving up to three years, the salary gradually rises to NIS 8,000 for 20 to 25 years, NIS 10,000 for 25 to 30, and NIS 12,000 (about $3,450) for 30 years or more. Generally, only murderers get sentences of 20 years or more in Israel. Thus the reward for murdering Israelis is a salary 4.5 to 7 times higher than the average daily West Bank wage of NIS 77.

Prisoners who serve longer terms also receive greater benefits. For instance, serving at least five years—three for women—gives you free government health insurance and free university tuition when you get out. If you serve 20 years or more, all your children also get an 80% tuition discount.

As an extra fillip, the law seeks to encourage homegrown terror inside Israel by granting Israeli Arabs an additional monthly bonus of NIS 500 on top of the enticing salary. The NIS 8,000 given a 20-year prisoner is more than double Israel’s minimum wage.

But the crowning outrage was the PA’s response when asked about the new law by the Jerusalem Post. It’s nothing to get excited about, said the PA’s Ministry for Prisoner Affairs, because the PA has actually been paying salaries to convicted terrorists since 1994. All that’s changed over the past few years is that the PA, evidently flush with European and American cash, has raised these salaries several times.

In short, even as PA President Mahmoud Abbas and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad were charming the West with their verbal opposition to terror, they were simultaneously working to encourage it by offering greater and greater financial incentives to those who commit it.

Israel ought to state clearly that it can’t possibly negotiate with an entity that pays people to murder its citizens. And its allies in Congress ought to stop financing these murders by means of American aid to the PA.