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International Business Times on PMW report: Britain and Norway pay salaries of Palestinian terrorists in prison

Maya Shwayder  |

Salaries for suicide bombers:
Western states unwittingly fund terrorist activities, says PMW report

by Maya Shwayder

Source: International Business Times

It's no secret that the Palestinian Territories are desperately poor, and that much of the income there comes from foreign aid... Two of the Palestinian Authority's largest contributors include Britain and Norway, who shelled out more than $93 million and $53 million, respectively, in 2010...

The international aid, as State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Monday, is meant to encourage the two-state solution peace process... Unfortunately, much of this funding may be used for the promotion of something dramatically different from peace. According to new report out on Thursday from the Israeli-based research institute Palestinian Media Watch, 2.5 percent of the Palestinian Authority's monthly budget is eaten up by salaries for prisoners sitting in Israeli jails, many of whom are convicted of plotting or carrying out terrorist attacks. That 2.5 percent amounts to about $5 million every month that is paid as a salary to these men, not, the report emphasized, as welfare or social assistance to the men’s families.

The word used in the original Arabic articles that the report quotes is "ratib," a word defined in the standard Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Arabic as "salary, pay, emolument." The Arabic words for welfare, "kheer," and assistance, "ah'un," are completely different, unrelated words.

The report quotes excerpts from the Palestinian paper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida that reveal, “The average prisoner salary is 3,129 shekels ($850)” per month, an amount that is much higher than the monthly salary of a Palestinian civil servant (2,882 shekels, $783), and Palestinian military personnel (2,704 shekels, $734).

Every Palestinian prisoner who is still in an Israeli prison is paid a salary depending on how long they will be incarcerated, the report said. Anyone who has been incarcerated under three years gets 1,400 shekels per month. Those who have been there the longest, 30 years or more, receive 12,000 shekels per month.

In addition to the salary, the Palestinian government also provides a “spousal supplement” of 300 shekels a month for any wives in the picture, and a “special supplement for children under 18” of 50 shekels for every child.

The report also said that some 4,000 prisoners continue to receive salaries after they are released from prison, provided they served at least five years.

In an TV Interview on Wattan TV in December 2012, a privately owned Palestinian Channel, the Palestinian Minister for Prisoner’s Affairs Issa Karake said that there are currently about 4,000 Palestinian men who continue to collect a monthly salary after they are released, amounting to 17.5 million shekels (about $4.8 million) every month, in addition to “millions of shekels in canteen money.”

An English translation of the interview reveals Karake confirming that every prisoner, regardless of age or employability, gets a salary. When asked by the TV host if any of the released prisoners work, Karake said, “Some work…some volunteer and work in different institutions.” [...]

Improper use of foreign aid funds is not without precedent, nor should it come as a surprise... In the case of the Palestinian Territories, it seems both Britain and Norway were aware, at least, that their money was going in part to Palestinian prisoners, but told the Palestinian Media Watch that the claims had been investigated.

The Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide said in an email to Norwegian journalist Tormod Strand that, “We have examined this again and according to the information we have from the Palestinian Authority, this is not salary payments. … [They] are social benefits for Palestinian prisoners… and their families, whose purpose is to compensate for the loss of income.”

In a letter from British Member of Parliament Alan Duncan from the Department for International Development to another MP, Mike Freer, Duncan wrote “the PA’s law refers to the payments as ‘salaries’… the PA has now changed the wording … to unambiguously refer to the payment as assistance – ‘la’ana.’” (sic., the wording was never changed - terrorists still receive "salaries" )

Duncan further wrote, “We believe it would be wrong to punish innocent children and other dependent family members by denying them access to social support.”

About 62 percent of the prisoners are not married, the PMW report said. Furthermore, the report said that while the Palestinian Authority did change the language from “ratib” to “la’ana,” the word was changed back once Britain and Norway agreed to continue their funding. In a statement to the Chairman of the Prisoners’ Club, a watchdog group that tracks Palestinians who are in Israeli jails, the PA government clarified that the law “considers payments made to prisoners ‘salaries,’ to which no other term applies. … the cosmetic change to ‘social assistance’ was only a rumor and [the] prisoners receive salaries out of the PA’s esteem for them.” [...]