US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Thursday lambasted the Palestinian Authority’s declared intention to make monthly payments to the family of the Palestinian terrorist who stabbed Israeli Ari Fuld to death on Sunday.
Friedman called the payments “unconscionable” and said the PA’s practice of making such payments to terrorists and their families was an obstacle to peace.
“The Palestinian Prisoner Affairs Commission has confirmed that the family of the terrorist who murdered Ari Fuld is ‘eligible to receive a monthly salary’ as compensation for his incarceration,” Friedman tweeted. “This practice is unconscionable and must stop if there is to be any hope for peace.”
Friedman tweeted his condemnation a day after The Times of Israel reported that the family of Khalil Jabarin, the 17-year-old terrorist who killed Fuld, would be eligible for a monthly salary from the PA once the correct paperwork had been completed.
The Palestinian Prisoner Affairs Commission has confirmed that the family of the terrorist who murdered Ari Fuld is “eligible to receive a monthly salary” as compensation for his incarceration. This practice is unconscionable and must stop if there is to be any hope for peace.
— David M. Friedman (@USAmbIsrael) September 20, 2018
The Palestinian Authority Prisoner Affairs’ Commission denied an Israeli TV report that the PA had already sent a multi-thousand shekel advance to the Jabarin family, but it made clear that such regular monthly payments would ultimately be made.
On Monday, Israel’s Channel 20 reported that the PA had transferred an advance of NIS 12,000 (some $3,300) to the family of Jabarin hours after he carried out the stabbing attack at the Gush Etzion Junction in the West Bank, killing 45-year-old Fuld, a father of four and a resident of the Efrat settlement.
Jabarin, whom Fuld shot at before succumbing to his wounds, is in Israeli custody as of Wednesday. Jabarin was lightly injured. By firing at Jabarin, Fuld and a second Israeli civilian prevented the terrorist from attacking his next intended target, falafel shop worker Hila Peretz, who hailed Fuld saving her life.
“This report is a total fabrication and incitement against the Palestinian National Authority and our prisoners,” Prisoner Affairs’ Commission spokesman Hassan Abd Rabbo said in a phone call. Abd Rabbo said that “families of Palestinian prisoners must complete several measures, which usually take three to four months, before they receive any funds.”
The Prisoner Affairs’ Commission spokesman, however, added that Jabarin’s family would be eligible for funds, once it completes the necessary documentation and assuming Jabarin is not released by Israel.
“We are not bashful or secretive about our support for our prisoners,” he said. “The [Jabarin] family would be eligible to receive a monthly salary of NIS 1,400 ($390), if their son is not freed by Israel and it completes all the necessary documents.”
“Families must provide the Prisoners’ Commission with court documents about their imprisoned family member, papers from the Red Cross proving their family member was imprisoned on security grounds for resisting the occupation, a copy of their family member’s identification card and other forms before they receive funds,” Abd Rabbo said. “It is more or less impossible to finish this process in less than three months.”
Abd Rabbo also said that if Jabarin’s family were to be granted a salary and their son remains in prison for several years, the sum they receive would increase. Former PA Prisoners’ Affairs Minister Ashraf al-Ajrami confirmed the substance of Abd Rabbo’s comments.
Families of Palestinians who meet the PA’s definition of a prisoner are entitled to a monthly payment, according to the PA Prisoners and Liberated Prisoners law. The law defines a prisoner as “anyone in the occupation’s prisons for participating in the struggle against the occupation.” Many Palestinians who the PA defines as prisoners have carried out terrorist attacks against Israelis and others and are serving life sentences.
Both the US and Israel recently passed legislation targeting the PA’s practice of paying the families of security prisoners, including terrorists. The Trump administration has since cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians.
Earlier this month, US Ambassador Friedman charged that the US has “thrown more than $10 billion” in aid to the Palestinians. He lamented that US taxpayer funds, rather than be used positively, had been partly spent on Palestinian Authority stipends to terrorists, to fund inciting education, and to finance an agency — UNRWA — that, by extending refugee status to descendants of Palestinian refugees, was perpetuating rather than helping solve the refugee problem.
Said Friedman: “To spend hard-earned taxpayer dollars to fund stipends to terrorists and their families, to expend funds to perpetuate rather than to mitigate refugee status, and to finance hate-filled textbooks — I ask you, how does that provide value to the United States or the region?”
Trump told Jewish leaders last month that the US would not give aid to the Palestinians until they reach an agreement with Israel. In a conference call with several dozen American Jewish leaders ahead of Rosh Hashanah, Trump noted that he had recently slashed immense amounts of US aid to the Palestinians. “The United States was paying them tremendous amounts of money. And I say, ‘You’ll get money, but we’re not paying until you make a deal. If you don’t make a deal, we’re not paying.’”
In March, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the US government for passing the so-called Taylor Force law, which suspended some financial aid to the Palestinians over the stipends.
The law, named after an American killed in Israel by a Palestinian in 2016, was folded into a $1.3 trillion spending bill signed by President Donald Trump.
Netanyahu called the law a “powerful signal by the US that changes the rules” by cutting “hundreds of millions of dollars for the Palestinian Authority that they invest in encouraging terrorism.”
According to Israel’s Defense Ministry, the PA in 2017 paid NIS 687 million ($198 million) to the so-called “martyrs’ families fund” and NIS 550 million ($160 million) to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club — some 7 percent of its overall budget.
Israel has called on Palestinians for years to halt the stipends, which benefit roughly 35,000 families of Palestinians killed, wounded, or jailed in the conflict with Israel, many of them accused of involvement in terror. Israel says the stipends encourage violence.
Among the beneficiaries are families of suicide bombers and others involved in deadly terrorist attacks on Israelis.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas has condemned the US and Israeli laws and vowed to continue to make the payments.
In July, Abbas defiantly told a meeting of Fatah party leaders that the Palestinian government would continue pay “our martyrs and prisoners and wounded people” as it had since 1965. “We will not allow anyone to interfere with the money that Israel is against us paying to the families of martyrs and prisoners,” he said, according to an official transcript released by state-run news agency Wafa.
Last year, Netanyahu castigated Abbas for telling Trump that the Palestinians educate their children in “a culture of peace,” saying the comment was “unfortunately not true.”
After a White House sit-down between Trump and Abbas, Netanyahu objected to the PA leader’s claim, saying the Palestinians “name their schools after mass murderers of Israelis and they pay terrorists.”
Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.