Abbas confirms PA still paying terrorists’ salaries — report
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Abbas confirms PA still paying terrorists’ salaries — report

Same funds still being channeled to Palestinian prisoners, watchdog says, despite assurances to foreign donors that PA no longer involved

Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas listens during an exclusive interview with AFP reporters in his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah on April 11, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / THOMAS COEX)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas listens during an exclusive interview with AFP reporters in his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah on April 11, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / THOMAS COEX)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas seemingly confirmed this week that the PA continues to pay the salaries of terrorists incarcerated by Israel, despite previously claiming that it had stopped doing so.

Norwegian daily Dagen reported that Foreign Minister Borge Brende, meeting with Abbas in Ramallah, demanded that the PA stop using its funds — which include donations by foreign countries — to support convicted terrorists and their families.

Abbas, rather than deny the claim, only assured the visiting diplomat that Norwegian money was not being used for such purposes.

Brende said he told Abbas the payments were “unacceptable and should be abolished.” He stressed that Norway’s funds were intended only to support “building and institutional development.”

Borge Brende (center), Norway’s minister for foreign affairs (photo credit: AP/The United Nations, Amanda Voisard)
Borge Brende (center), Norway’s minister for foreign affairs (photo credit: AP/The United Nations, Amanda Voisard)

Facing mounting pressure from the international community, the PA announced in 2014 that it would cease paying terrorists’ salaries through the Prisoners’ Affairs Ministry. The ministry was closed, and the PA announced that all stipends to those who committed crimes against Israel would thenceforth be relegated to the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), which does not receive international support.

However, while this seems to have appeased foreign donors, Palestinian Media Watch reports that the change was purely cosmetic. Citing numerous reports in the Palestinian media over the past two years, the watchdog concludes that the PA Finance Ministry continues to fund, oversee and maintain control over the payments to terrorists.

In 2015, after the newly formed PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs began to handle payments, the PA’s annual budget to the PLO was raised by NIS 481 million — an amount similar to that which the PA had previously been paying prisoners, the watchdog group said.

In addition, various Palestinian news reports have referred to the PA’s continued payments to prisoners through the PLO commission.

The report also notes that Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Karake became the head of the PLO commission immediately upon the closure of the former and the establishment of the latter.

The commission, the report surmises, is simply a fig leaf for the PA’s continued support of terrorists.

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