Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has appointed a convicted Israeli Arab terrorist to the governing body of his Fatah party, a watchdog group said Monday.
Abbas selected Karim Younes to be a member of the Fatah Central Committee, according to Palestinian Media Watch, an Israeli-based non-government organization.
The report came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that his government was placing a focus on Palestinians’ glorification of terrorists and incitement. Earlier this week, in the face of Israeli pressure, Norway withdrew funding from a Palestinian women’s center named for a female terrorist who took part in the 1978 Coastal Road massacre. The UN also distanced itself from the center.
Younes, together with his cousin Maher Younis, kidnapped and murdered IDF soldier Avraham Bromberg as he made his way from his base in the Golan Heights to his home in Zichron Yaakov on November 26, 1980. He is serving a 40-year sentence.
Sentenced to life in prison in early 1983, Younis, from the Arab town of ‘Aara in central Israel, is now the longest-serving security prisoner in an Israeli jail. In 2012, former president Shimon Peres reduced his sentence to 40 years behind bars. Younis was a member of Fatah when he killed Bromberg.
In May, the PA named two squares after the cousins in the West Bank town of Jenin, PMW said, noting that over a period of 30 days earlier this year, the Palestinian Authority and Fatah honored 44 terrorists who killed a total of 440 people.
Israel has accused the Palestinians, including Abbas’s Fatah party, of fanning hatred on social media and calling for violence against Israelis.
Palestinian officials have generally countered the claim by arguing that harsh Israeli measures and decades of occupation, not incitement, instill hatred and inspire terrorism.
PLO Director of Prisoner’s Affairs Issa Qaraqe said that the appointment was designed to show that Palestinian prisoners “are not terrorists and not criminals” but “freedom prisoners and fighters,” PMW reported.
“They are freedom prisoners and fighters who enjoy an important national, human, and legal status among their leadership and among their Palestinian people,” Qaraqe said in PA TV report cited by PMW.
On Monday, the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee held a meeting to review PA incitement with a focus on monthly payments by the Palestinian Authority to the families of terrorists that amount to over a billion shekels ($280 million) every year.
Under PA law, Palestinian security prisoners serving time in Israeli jails and families of assailants killed while carrying attacks against Israelis are eligible to receive stipends and other benefits.
Lawmakers heard how, in 2015, the PA paid some NIS 1.15 billion ($320 million ) as wages to the families of Palestinian terrorists and on average over NIS 1 billion ($280 million) each year for the past four years. The figures amount to some 20% of the money that Israel gives to Palestinians each year.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.