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Abbas refuses to stop salaries to terrorists
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Abbas refuses to stop salaries to terrorists
 
 
On behalf of PA government, PA Minister of Justice:
"Our brave prisoners and righteous Martyrs...
are fighters for freedom, justice, and peace"
 
Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
 
PA Chairman Abbas and numerous other Palestinian Authority leaders have rejected the demands of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump, and many other governments and legislators to stop the payments of salaries to imprisoned terrorists.
 
Following the demand made by Israel and just before Abbas' meeting with Trump last week, Director of the PLO Commission of Prisoners' Affairs Issa Karake announced Abbas' "absolute refusal":
 
"The President [Abbas] emphasized his absolute refusal of the Israeli demands to stop the allowances of the families of the prisoners and Martyrs (Shahids), and emphasized his absolute support for them (i.e., for the payments).'"
[Amad, independent Palestinian news website, April 29, 2017]
 
There are two recurring Palestinian defenses of the payments. (See additional sources below.) The first is that the prisoners are not terrorists but "freedom fighters" and therefore rightfully are being rewarded. The second claim is that the payments are actually "social welfare for the families," and therefore not a reward for terror. Both of these claims are false.
 
First, the overwhelming majority of prisoners are not "fighters" who participated in any combat with soldiers but are terrorists who targeted civilians. Terrorists like Abdullah Barghouti who built the bombs that murdered 67 civilians at the Hebrew University, in cafés, and on buses cannot be called a "fighter." Marwan Barghouti, who is currently leading the Palestinian prisoners' hunger strike, planned several shooting attacks in which 5 were murdered. This is cold-blooded murder and does not turn him into a "fighter." Nonetheless, each has received nearly nearly $200,000 in PA salaries. Few of the 6,500 Palestinian prisoners actually confronted Israeli soldiers as "fighters."
 
Second, the claim that the payments are social welfare for wives and children is likewise false. According to the PA Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs report in 2010 63% of the prisoners at that time were single and yet they received the same high basic salaries, up to 12,000 shekels a month, depending on length of time in prison. Moreover, Palestinian law explicitly refers to the payments of salaries (Arabic = Rawatib). In addition, when the salaries get high enough the PA government withholds income tax as with all salaries.
 
Finally, Palestinian Media Watch has documented a case in which a prisoner's wife complained that she and her children were not receiving the prisoner's salary. The Minister of Prisoners' Affairs responded that although the prisoner should have given the money to his wife and children, the minister could not force him to since it was his personal salary:
 
PA TV journalist to wife of prisoner:"For nearly four years, the prisoner's allowance from the Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs... has not reached your hands and your children's hands... Did you try to turn to the authorities?"
 
Prisoner's wife:"A year and a half ago, I went to the Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs... Their answer was: 'Your husband transfers it to the person he wants. It's in his power not to transfer [it to you] and we can't do anything about it."
[Feb. 17, 2013, April 17, 2014]

In recent weeks, as international pressure has grown, there have been numerous statements by Palestinian leaders rejecting international requests to stop rewarding salaries to terrorists and allowances to families of so-called "Martyrs." Following Abbas' meeting with Trump, Abbas' deputy chairman of Fatah, Mahmoud Al-Aloul, reiterated that the PA under no circumstances would give in to American pressure to stop the salaries:
 
"Fatah Movement Deputy Chairman Mahmoud Al-Aloul said... that the PA will reject any proposal that demands to stop taking care of the families of the Martyrs, prisoners, and injured through the transfer of monthly financial allowances. He added that this is a national cause, and that the American administration and the occupation encountered a refusal on this matter.
Al-Aloul noted that the injured, Martyrs, and prisoners are Palestinian fighters, and that we must under no circumstances accede to the pressures to stop their allowances."
[Wattan, independent Palestinian news agency, May 4, 2017]
 
In response to the demand to stop the financial rewards to terrorists, PA Minister of Justice Ali Abu Diyak also emphasized that "it is not possible... to stain with terror the struggle of our people that is defending itself, its land, its holy sites, its freedom, and its just rights," and stressed:
 
"The Martyrs and prisoners are the symbols of our legitimate national struggle, the conscience of our Palestinian people."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 23, 2017]
 
PLO Executive Committee member and member of the political bureau of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine Tayseer Khaled has stressed the PLO's refusal to end the payments to terrorists:
 
"Those whose allowances the American administration is demanding to stop are freedom fighters, and the Palestinian side cannot relate to these provocative demands. The Palestinian National Fund, which... takes care of the families of the Martyrs, wounded, and prisoners, and will continue to do so regardless of the positions of the Israeli government and the American administration."
[Donia Al-Watan, independent Palestinian news agency, April 22, 2017]
 
The international community's demands that the PA stop rewarding terrorist murderers with salaries follow Palestinian Media Watch's thorough documentation of this PA practice. PMW first reported on the salaries in 2011 and has since followed up numerous times with additional information, most recently with the report The PA's Billion Dollar Fraud, documenting the PA's ploy to fool Western donors into believing the PA is no longer paying the salaries.
 
PA and Fatah leaders continue to repackage the imprisoned terrorists as "freedom fighters" and "heroes." Speaking "on behalf of the prime minister and the government," PA's Minister of Justice Ali Abu Diyak called the terrorist prisoners "brave" and "fighters for freedom":
 
"I salute our brave prisoners... We emphasize to the world that our brave prisoners and righteous Martyrs (Shahids) are the victims of the Israeli occupation's crimes and they are fighters for freedom, justice, and peace."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 5, 2017] 
 
At a rally in Ramallah "in solidarity with the prisoners' movement," Director of PLO Commission of Prisoners' Affairs Issa Karake said:
 
"We are a people that only wants its freedom. Our prisoners are not terrorists, but rather fighter heroes and prisoners of honor and freedom."
[Amad, independent Palestinian news website, April 27, 2017]
 
The PA's Grand Mufti has ruled that "supporting the prisoners" is a "religious obligation":
 
"[PA] Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Territories and Chairman of the Supreme Fatwa Council Sheikh Muhammad Hussein and the muftis of the districts called on the members of the Palestinian people to participate in activities supporting the Palestinian prisoners in their struggle and hunger strike... They said that this is a religious obligation in which everyone must take part."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 13, 2017]
 
The following are longer excerpts of the statements referred to above:
 
"[PA] Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah participated yesterday [May 4, 2017] at the tent of the sit-in strike set up in Ramallah as a sign of solidarity for the prisoners...
Hamdallah was accompanied by District Governor of Ramallah and El-Bireh Laila Ghannam, [PA] Minister of Health Jawad Awwad, and [PA] Minister of Justice Ali Abu Diyak.
Abu Diyak said in a speech before the sit-in strikers on behalf of the prime minister and the government: 'I salute our brave prisoners behind the fences of the Israeli prisons who are waging the [hunger] strike of freedom and dignity, the Campaign of the Empty Stomachs, in order to stop the Israeli violations against them, and for their human dignity and just rights that are anchored in international conventions and agreements. We emphasize to the world that our brave prisoners and righteous Martyrs (Shahids) are the victims of the Israeli occupation's crimes and they are fighters for freedom, justice, and peace."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 5, 2017]
 
Headline: "Leadership members, released prisoners, and prisoners' families to Wattan: 'We refuse Trump's demand of President Abbas to stop the prisoners' allowances"
"After Palestinian [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas' visit to the White House and his meeting with American President Donald Trump yesterday evening [May 3, 2017], the White House published a statement in which it was explained that Trump demanded of Abbas that the PA stop paying the allowances (mukhassasat) of the prisoners, Martyrs (Shahids), and injured as a step towards a peace agreement between the Palestinians and Israelis...
This statement stirred opposition and anger among Palestinian groups, and particularly [among] the prisoners, their relatives, and the parties taking care of their matters, and also among the political echelon.
Fatah Movement Deputy Chairman [and Fatah Central Committee member] Mahmoud Al-Aloul said in an interview with the [independent Palestinian news] agency Wattan that the PA will reject any proposal that demands to stop taking care of the families of the Martyrs, prisoners, and injured through the transfer of monthly financial allowances (mukhassasat). He added that this is a national cause, and that the American administration and the occupation encountered a refusal on this matter.
Al-Aloul noted that the injured, Martyrs, and prisoners are Palestinian fighters, and that we must under no circumstances accede to the pressures to stop their allowances."
[Wattan, independent Palestinian news agency, May 4, 2017]
 
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer spoke on May 3, 2017, about the meeting between US President Donald Trump and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas the previous day, and said: "President [Trump] raised concerns about the payments to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails who have committed acts of terror and to their families and emphasized the need to resolve this issue." He also noted that Trump had talked to Abbas about preventing incitement in Palestinian media outlets.
 
Headline: "The [PA] president: The prisoners' cause is a priority among the issues in which the leadership is interested"
"[PA] President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed a delegation of families of Martyrs (Shahids) and hunger striking prisoners from all districts of the homeland yesterday [April 28, 2017] at his presidential office in Ramallah.
The president emphasized that the leadership is in contact with all of the international parties in order to pressure the government of Israel to accede to the prisoners' just humanitarian demands.
The president noted that the prisoners' cause is a priority among the issues in which the leadership is interested. He called on everyone to stand alongside the prisoners and their just cause, and to ease their suffering and their families' suffering."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 29, 2017]

Abbas posed with several relatives of imprisoned terrorists and "Martyrs," among them:

Khaled Khdeish - a Palestinian terrorist who was involved in the murder of 2 Israeli soldiers and the wounding of 3 others. Khdeish is serving 2 life sentences and an additional 20 years. PMW was unable to find additional information regarding his crimes.
 
Um Nasser Abu Hmeid (Um Yusuf Abu Hmeid/Latifa Abu Hmeid) - The mother of four prisoners serving multiple life sentences. She is also called Khansa of Palestine (referring to a woman in the earliest period of Islam who sent her four sons to battle and rejoiced when they all died as Martyrs), honored in 2010 and in 2015 by the PA, and was chosen in 2011 to launch the PA's statehood campaign with the UN.

Hmeid's sons are serving the following sentences for the following crimes:

Nasser Abu Hmeid was a commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades (Fatah's military wing) in Ramallah and is serving 7 life sentences and 50 years for killing 7 Israeli civilians and 12 attempted murders. 
Nasr Abu Hmeid was a member of Tanzi
m (Fatah terror faction) and is serving 5 life sentences for involvement in two terror attacks and arms dealing.
Sharif Abu Hmeid was a member of one of his brothers' units that carried out terror attacks against civilians and soldiers. He is serving 4 life sentences for accompanying a suicide bomber to his attack in March 2002.
Muhammad Abu Hmeid is serving 2 life sentences and 30 years for involvement in terror attacks.

Headline: "Karake demanded urgent international intervention and confirmed that an additional group of prisoners has joined the [hunger] strike of freedom and dignity"
"Director of [PLO] Commission of Prisoners and Released Prisoners' Affairs Issa Karake... explained in an interview with Radio Mawtini today, Saturday [April 29, 2017]... that '[PA] President [Mahmoud Abbas] emphasized his absolute refusal of the Israeli demands to stop the allowances (mukhassasat) of the families of the prisoners and Martyrs (Shahids), and emphasized his absolute support for them (i.e., for the payments).'"
[Amad, independent Palestinian news website, April 29, 2017]
 
Headline: "Karake warned against the deaths as Martyrs in the ranks of the striking prisoners"
"Director of [PLO] Commission of Prisoners and Released Prisoners' Affairs Issa Karake today, Thursday [April 27, 2017], warned against the deaths as Martyrs (Shahids) in the ranks of the prisoners who are hunger striking for the 11th consecutive day.
In a speech that he gave during the mass rally that passed through the streets of Ramallah and El-Bireh as a sign of solidarity with the prisoners' movement, he added that 'the world must listen to the prisoners' voices and the Palestinian people's voice - we are a people that only wants its freedom. Our prisoners are not terrorists, but rather fighter heroes and prisoners of honor and freedom.'
Karake explained that the occupation state is the one that creates terror, and the prisoners are determined to continue the strike until achieving their legal demands or Martyrdom-death (Shahada)."
[Amad, independent Palestinian news website, April 27, 2017]
 
Headline: "Abu Diyak: The occupation is terrorist and the prisoners are symbols of our struggle"
"[PA] Minister of Justice Ali Abu Diyak emphasized yesterday [April 22, 2017] that it is not possible... to stain with terror the struggle of our people that is defending itself, its land, its holy sites, its freedom, and its just rights.
Abu Diyak said in response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's statements regarding the request to stop paying financial allowances (mukhassasat) to the prisoners and the Martyrs' (Shahids') families: 'The Martyrs and prisoners are the symbols of our legitimate national struggle, the conscience of our Palestinian people, and victims of the organized terror and state terror that the occupation uses against our people.'
Abu Diyak noted that the Palestinian problem will not be resolved by submitting to the extremist Zionist ideology, but rather by making a just and dignified peace, and that peace will not be achieved by delegitimizing the Palestinian struggle against the occupation, but rather by ending the occupation and the settlement enterprise... 
Secretary-General of the [Palestinian] Popular Struggle Front and PLO Executive Committee member Ahmed Majdalani said that the statements of the occupation prime minister... are incitement against the PA and the continuation of a series of [statements by Israeli Minister of Defense Avigdor] Liberman, who called to define the [Palestinian] National Fund as a 'terror organization.'"
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 23, 2017]
 
On March 16, 2017, Israeli Minister of Defense Avigdor Liberman declared the Palestinian National Fund of the PLO a terrorist organization. The fund manages financial aid received by the PLO from different sources. The Israeli Ministry of Defense declare the fund a terror organization due to the fund's "massive support for elements responsible for committing severe acts of terrorism against Israel," and stated that the fund serves "as a significant financial pipeline for tens of millions of shekels that are transferred on a monthly basis to security prisoners held in Israel for committing acts of terrorism and to members of their families," and that "the fund also supports family members of terrorists who were wounded and killed while perpetrating acts of terrorism against Israel." It also stated that "the necessary steps will be taken, in Israel and abroad, to seize and forfeit the property and money belonging to the fund."

Palestinian Media Watch has documented that the PA uses the Palestinian National Fund to transfer money for terrorist salaries to the PLO.
 
Headline: "The Prisoner's Day events in Beit Rima and Deir Ghassaneh were completed"
"Deputy District Governor of Ramallah and El-Bireh Hamdan Barghouti said: 'The prisoners have sacrificed years of their lives so that we will live in dignity. The solidarity events must continue in order to support the prisoners, especially in their campaign against the Israeli policy against them, and especially in light of the fact that their demands are legitimate.'
He noted that the Israeli ministers are inciting against the prisoners and demanding to execute them (see note -Ed.), and emphasized that the occupation is practicing Nazism against our prisoners."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 20, 2017]
 
PMW could find no call by any Israeli minister to execute terrorist prisoners. This claim apparently refers to statements by Israeli Minister of Intelligence and Transportation Yisrael Katz on March 6 and 7, 2017, when he said that terrorist Marwan Barghouti should have been sentenced to the death penalty rather than receive life imprisonment.