JERUSALEM – Economy Minister Naftali Bennett announced Wednesday (Jun. 25) that he will work to stop Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas from continuing the policy of paying monthly salaries to convicted terrorists jailed in Israeli prisons.
“Did you murder Jews? Have you abducted children? Get up to 12,000 shekels a month from Abu Mazen!,” wrote Bennett sarcastically on his Facebook page. “Meet Abu Mazen’s ‘preferred employment’ track: murderers, terrorists and child abductors. We (Isarel) have preferred status for gas station attendants; Abu Mazen gives it to those who pour fuel on the fires of death and destruction.”
A report presented to the Israeli Government on the subject reveals that this salary system is expensive and complex, funded in part by Western countries donating to the Palestinian Authority (PA).
The PA gives generous monthly salaries and large release grants to incarcerated terrorists. These convicted murderers, 78 of whom have already been released from prison by Israel, are receiving monthly salaries of up to nearly $3,500 and grants of up to $25,000.
In this way the PA is giving a strong financial incentive to terrorism, the report states. The report further states that publically rewarding convicted murderers gives an official stamp of approval to terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians. It is a highly persuasive form of incitement to violence and terrorism, and encourages further terrorist outrages.
These salaries paid out by the PA terrorists are actually prescribed by PA law. ‘The Palestinian Prisoners’ Law’ stipulates that every Palestinian inmate in an Israeli prison who is convicted of a terrorism-related offense receives a monthly salary from the beginning of his imprisonment and a series of additional benefits offered to convicted terrorists upon their release.
These salaries are calculated as a function of the number of years spent in prison. This means in effect that the terrorists who carried out the most horrific attacks receive the highest salaries.
The minimal wage paid to serving prisoners stands at NIS 1,400 (around $400) upon imprisonment. This base sum increases gradually, up to a maximum of 12,000 shekels (around $3,500), based on the length of imprisonment. In addition to that salary, the PA covers the living expenses of the prisoners’ families. Every released security prisoner who was in prison in Israel for at least one year is given a onetime grant upon release ranging from the sum of $1,500 for those who served between 1-3 years and up to $25,000 for prisoners of 30 years and more. Those who were in Israeli prisons for criminal offences do not receive any grants.
It should be noted that the sums being bestowed upon these terrorists are large, in particular in contrast to the average monthly salaries of Palestinian workers in the PA controlled areas, which stands at $641 according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.
Terrorists are further given administrative grades in the PA civil service or military rank, based on the number of years spent in jail. For example, those who served at least 25 years in prison are awarded the equivalent rank of Major-General in the security forces or of a Deputy Minister in the PA, both of which earn monthly wages of nearly $4,000. Terrorists who were incarcerated between 15-25 years receive over $2,800 every month. Released prisoners are also given priority over other candidates for official positions. In addition, prisoners who spent between 5-10 years in prison receive severance payments in case no vacancy is found for them.
Among those who receive the maximum amount is the most veteran prisoner, Issa Abed Rabbo, who shot to death two young Hebrew University students hiking near Beit Lechem in 1984. In addition to the grant and salary, the PA also offered to cover the expenses of his wedding. Abu-Musa Atia, who used an ax to murder Isaac Rotenberg, a Holocaust survivor who had escaped from the Sobibor death camp, is also on the payroll. So is Yusef Hazaa who murdered two Israeli teachers, one of them a 19-year-old volunteer. Sualha Husseini and Almajed Mahmed who carried out a stabbing attack on a crowded bus, killing 24-year-old Baruch Heizler and wounding three young women receive monthly salaries from the PA for their heinous actions.
This expensive pay system is funded in part by Western donor countries. The PA is highly dependent on foreign aid. The international community donates primarily for the proper management of PA institutions and for promoting peaceful coexistence with Israel. However, in 2012 the PA found the funds and paid over $75 million to terrorists in Israeli prisons and $78 million to the families of deceased terrorists, including suicide bombers. Together, these amounts account for over 16% of the annual foreign donations and grants to the PA budget. This figure reflects only official transfers by the Ministry of Prisoners. It does not include any additional transfers from other bodies, such as the Ministry for Welfare and PA official funds. These payments account for approximately 5% of the Palestinian Authority’s total budget. Some countries have already begun to reconsider their funding of the PA because of similar findings. Since 2011, Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) has been reporting on the PA’s practice of rewarding terrorists and murderers with high salaries. As a result, the PA has been criticized internationally for paying these salaries. Recently, several members of US Congress suggested that the US either cancel its aid to the PA entirely until it ends this practice or that the US deduct from its aid an amount equaling the amount of money the PA spends on terrorist salaries. Norway and Britain have also demanded explanations regarding these payments.
The Palestinians relate to these payments as salaries, not as welfare or social aid. Qadura Fares, a former PA minister and current Chairman of the Prisoners’ Club stated on PA TV: “What is spent on the prisoners is exactly what is spent on me and you. These are salaries. Therefore, when the salaries are paid to those working in government offices and institutions, they will also be paid to the prisoners.”
Hamas terrorsit Ziyad Awad, who was released in the Shalit deal and arrested recently for the murderer of Baruch Mizrahi on Passover eve, received a salary from the Palestinian Authority during his first imprisonment, was released and received a freed terrorist’s salary .Minister Bennet said: “Now his conditions will again be improved in Abu Mazen’s ‘preferred employment’ scheme – after all, he murdered a Jew and has returned to prison. Amazing. The system is simple,” Bennett explained. “With one hand, Abu Mazen ‘condemns’ the abduction, of course, and with the other, which hands out cash for terrorism, he encourages it.”
By Aryeh Savir
Tazpit News Agency