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PA denies Politico report that it will change Pay-for-Slay program

Itamar Marcus and Ephraim D. Tepler  |

PA minister responsible for prisoners:

  • “The payment of salaries to the families of the prisoners and the Martyrs is anchored in Palestinian law and is non-negotiable”
  • “The payment of salaries to the families of prisoners and the Martyrs by the PA is a ‘red line’”

Head of PA intelligence:

  • “President Mahmoud Abbas has emphasized again and again – if we are left with one penny, it will be paid to the families of the Martyrs and the prisoners”

The Palestinian official in charge of ensuring that salaries are paid to the families of terrorists in the notorious “Pay-for-Slay” program has categorically dismissed reports that the PA would end the payments. A report in Politico in March 2024 cited two Biden administration officials that “the U.S. is near a deal with the Palestinian Authority to end its contentious ‘martyr payments’ for people who commit acts of violence against Israel.”

In response, Qadura Fares, the Director of the PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs and Chairman of the PA-funded Prisoners’ Club, declared that the reports are false because paying salaries to prisoners is “anchored in Palestinian law and is non-negotiable”:

“Senior sources in the American administration said that a draft of the American plan that was submitted to the PA presents an alternative solution to the question of the salaries paid to the Palestinian families, and it will start by implementing a comprehensive plan by the PA on the topic of welfare… Director of Palestinian [PLO] Commission of Prisoners’ [Affairs] Qadura Fares emphasized that the reports given on this matter are baseless, but they are being disseminated now and then. He directed attention to how this is part of the Israeli media’s attempt to distort and tarnish the image of the PA. In an interview with Erem News, Fares said that the payment of salaries to the families of the prisoners and the Martyrs is anchored in Palestinian law and is non-negotiable, and he even strongly emphasized that the payment of salaries to the families of the prisoners and the Martyrs by the PA is ‘a red line.’

[Erem News, UAE-based news website, April 1, 2024]

For years, the US and European countries have demanded that the PA reframe its rewards-for-terrorists program so that it should become a social welfare program for the families of terrorists, but the PA has refused. Now, Politico has reported that “drafts of the PA payments reform plans seen by U.S. officials indicate that Palestinian leaders will replace the current scheme with a general welfare program.”

Palestinian Media Watch reported on a similar initiative in 2013, just two years after PMW exposed the PA’s Pay-for-Slay program. After PMW presented the evidence to European countries, both Britain and Norway asked the PA to make a superficial change to their law by calling the payments social “assistance” instead of salaries to prisoners. Even this cosmetic change, however, was met with outrage among the Palestinian public and the prisoners’ organizations. Then, Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Karake explained that the prisoners are supported by the PA "out of esteem for their sacrifice and struggle," i.e., as a reward for their terror. Referring to terror rewards as social “assistance” was considered insulting to the terrorists. PMW has already proven that the salaries the PA pays to the terrorist prisoners are not welfare payments that are based on need, rather they are rewards for terror that increase the longer the terrorist is in prison.

Repeating the PA position from 2013, Qadura Fares continued to express his indignation at the mere prospect of labeling the payments as social welfare, calling it a “principled issue.” In response to a question from Ajyal Radio asking about the difference between the terms, Fares said:

“The issue is not just the finances of the families that lost their source of livelihood, whether as a result of Martyrdom, imprisonment, or wounding. The issue is not just a material issue. Likewise, if you would pose this question as a poll to the Palestinian public opinion, the overwhelming majority of our Palestinian people would say there is a difference. Yes, there is a difference… This is a Palestinian internal national issue, and we are taking action relying on a principle that was approved by the [PA] Parliament (Legislative Council) that was elected by the Palestinian people, the Palestinian National Council (i.e., the legislative body of the PLO), and the [PLO] Central Council, which are the central institutions and which adopted the principle that the families of the Martyrs, the wounded, and the prisoners need to live a dignified life.”

[PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs, Facebook page, April 2, 2024]

According to Fares and the PA, having the prisoners’ families receive social welfare instead of terror rewards is not dignified.

Fares is not the only senior official confirming that the terror rewards will stay. PA General Intelligence Service officials also stressed that the PA would continue to pay the prisoners’ salaries even if it went bankrupt:

[PA General Intelligence] Service Director in Jenin Adnan Abu Aisheh said that the message of the service, under the instructions of its leader [Head of PA General Intelligence Service] Majed Faraj, is to emphasize what [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas has emphasized again and again – that if we are left with one penny, it will be paid to the families of the Martyrs and the prisoners.

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 5, 2024]

Significantly, not only did Abbas say that but, as reported by Palestinian Media Watch, official PA TV has rebroadcast Abbas' statement well over 200 times that even if the PA had only “one penny” left, it would go to the terrorists and their families.

PMW will continue to follow this important story, as the PA vows to continue rewarding its terrorist “heroes,” while the US seeks to have the PA make cosmetic changes to create the pretense that the PA is no longer a terror-supporting entity.


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