Apr 17, 2021
JERUSALEM WEATHER

ParlerGab
  • PA leadership in touch with the American administration, the EU, and Israeli authorities to solve problem with terror rewards and “find a solution that will allow the renewal of paying the salaries”

  • Part one of problem solved: PA’s creative scheme to circumvent Israeli anti-terror law and fool donors by making terrorist salaries look like ordinary salaries is well underway – released terrorists are already being incorporated into the PA security mechanisms

  • Part two of problem still unsolved: PA frantically trying to find way to pay imprisoned terrorists without being caught up in Israel’s anti-terror legislation

  • PA TV repeats Abbas’ vow to pay terrorists no matter what – even “if we are left with only one penny”

According to the Director of the Palestinian Authority-funded PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs, Qadri Abu Bakr, the PA leadership is working closely with the US administration, the EU, and Israeli authorities to ensure that the PA will be able to pay the monthly salaries it pays to terrorist prisoners and released terrorists, via the banks in April. Abu Bakr added that dozens of employees in the commission are working – “even on vacation days” – to guarantee a solution is found to give the terrorists their rewards.

The Palestinian leadership is holding contacts at the highest levels with the American administration, with the Europeans, and with the Israeli authorities in order to find a solution that will allow the renewal of paying the salaries of the prisoners in the occupation’s prison and the released prisoners… We hope that the payment of the salaries via the banks will be renewed in April [2021]… A team of 64 employees in the commission and in other institutions is working even on vacation days to arrange this matter, which is sacred from our perspective… The commission is insisting that the prisoners’ salaries be paid via the banks and not in any other way.”

[alquds.com, website of the paper Al-Quds, March 11, 2021]

The PA’s crisis in paying salaries all started on April 20, 2020, when Palestinian Media Watch wrote to the banks operating in the PA and warned them that new Israeli anti-terror legislation was about to come into effect and that if they continued allowing to the PA to pay salaries to the terrorist prisoners and released prisoners through their institutions they would potentially face both criminal and civil liability.

The new law that PMW referred to came into full force on Dec. 30, 2020.

Instead of abolishing its terror reward policy, PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh reiterated the PA commitment to paying the salaries of the terrorist prisoners. When asked on Al-Araby TV whether the PA has “abandoned the prisoners, and what are the alternative solutions for them?” Shtayyeh pledged that the PA’ will continue to reward terrorists:

“You know and all the people watching your show know for certain that we are fully committed. We have not abandoned the prisoners, and we will not abandon the prisoners. The prisoners’ cause is a sacred cause. They have rights, and we must protect this… On the other hand, Israel and the US imposed sanctions on us due to our commitment to the prisoners. In any case we will protect the sanctity of this cause… But the most important thing is that there are financial rights for the prisoners. We will remain committed to them in every way.”

[Facebook page of PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh, Jan. 22, 2021]

This statement reflected the efforts of the PA to try to invent ways to circumvent the new Israeli anti-terror funding law.

The PA has come up with a creative solution to solve part of the problem. In order to continue paying terror salaries to the 7,500 terrorists already released from prison, the PA has decided to create thousands of new civil service positions, thus camouflaging the payments to the terrorists as if they were payments to government employees. As part of this program, the PA has even recruited the released terrorists into the PA security apparatus. Significantly, the PA sees no inconsistency enlisting released terrorists, including members of internationally designated terror organizations such as Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine into the PA security mechanisms charged with fighting terror.

The program to recruit and enlist the released terrorists into the PA apparatus was first announced in October 2020. Since then, there have been intermittent reports updating the implementation. Thus recently, Abu Bakr commented that based on the Presidential Decree issued by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the process of integrating the released terrorists is well underway:

Official PA TV newsreader: “According to the presidential order issued by His Honor [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas, the [PLO] Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs has begun the initial steps to integrate the released prisoners into governmental positions, both security positions and civilian positions…”

Abu Bakr: “Following His Honor the president’s decision, the integration of the prisoners has begun both in the military sector and in the civilian sector… Every prisoner will fill out a form with the needed information and ask for what he wants, whether in the security or civilian framework.”

Official PA TV reporter: “Designated professional committees of the Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs will work with the Bureau of Public Sector Workers and with the management and organization of the Palestinian Security Committee to integrate the released prisoners… The number of those benefiting from this operation will reach more than 7,000 released prisoners, from among those who receive permanent salaries and were in the occupation’s prisons for five years or more, including the elderly and disabled. They will be employed on the basis of their academic training and the time the prisoner spent in the occupation’s prisons.”

[Official PA TV News, Feb. 9, 2021]

Abu Bakr later added:

“Regarding dividing the [released] prisoners among the PA’s civil and military institutions, he said that there is a joint committee comprised of an expert team from the Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs, national insurance, the Tanzim (i.e., Fatah terror faction), the directorate, and the General Personnel Council, which is working on this issue… the committee includes more than 60 employees who are working to sort the cases, and that a good part of the work has been done on this process.”

[Sada News, Palestinian news agency, March 6, 2021]

Alongside the PA’s new scheme, thousands of released terrorists are currently being paid a monthly “salary”, as if they are actually employed. In reality, the terrorists receive the payment merely as a reward for their acts of terror and pursuant to their incarceration. Despite receiving a “salary,” they are only actually required to fulfil the duties of their ostensible positions, if specifically “requested” to do so.

By creating the new jobs, it appears the PA believes that the new scheme will provide a solution for at least two problems.

First, the PA’s new scheme seems to be designed to both fool and placate the European Union and the US administration, both of whom have expressed varying levels of dismay with the payments to the released terrorists. If the released terrorists have actual jobs, and are actually required to work, the objections of the EU and the US would be mitigated.

The problem with this idea is that in normal circumstances, being accepted to a government position would require the candidate to have certain qualifications. For the PA, the only requirement is that the candidate be a released terrorist.

Second, the PA seems to believe that it will be able to diminish the impact, at least partially, of the Israeli law that combats the PA payments to the terrorist prisoners and released prisoners.

Passed in 2018, the Israeli law stipulates that the PA expenditure on rewarding the terrorist prisoners in one year will be deducted from the taxes Israel collects and transfers to the PA in the following year. Based on this law, to date, Israel decided to deduct a cumulative sum of 1.25 billion shekels ($US 379,979,625) from the taxes, a sum equivalent to the PA expenditure to reward terrorists in 2018 (650 million shekels) and 2019 (600 million shekels).

Until now, the salaries to the released terrorists were paid through the PA-funded PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs. In deciding the sum to be deducted, Israel looked at the expenditure of the Commission.

Accordingly, the PA apparently believes that its new scheme will make it much more difficult for Israel to quantify the amounts paid to the released terrorists.

“The released prisoners who were assigned to the [PA] security and military forces as part of arranging their status – 7,500 in number – will receive a payment according to their new financial limitations in these institutions.”

[alquds.com, website of the paper Al-Quds, March 11, 2021]

Similarly, in an attempt to further hide the PA terror reward expenditure, the PA has decided that released terrorists who have health problems will not be required to work and that those over the age of 60 will be pensioned off:

“Approximately 1,500 released prisoners suffering from health problems will not be asked to come to work in the forces (but apparently will still receive salary -Ed.), while those aged 60 or older will be put on pension.”

[alquds.com, website of the paper Al-Quds, March 11, 2021]

In contrast, the other part of the problem – the payment of the PA salaries to the imprisoned terrorists -, has proved much more difficul to solve for the PA.

While the PA initially announced that it intended to create a new, independent, PLO- controlled bank, through which it would pay the terrorist prisoners’ salaries – that option appears to have been abandoned. As Abu Bakr explained:

“One of the options is to establish the ‘Independence Bank,’ but it appears that this will be useless because there are threats by the occupation against the bank and against the banks that will have connections with it, and because it has not been given a license, which prevents its work from starting…”

[Wattan, independent Palestinian news agency, Jan. 5, 2021]

As the idea of creating the new terror bank dissipated, Abu Bakr claimed that the PA had instructed the banks not to close the accounts of the terrorists:

Independent Palestinian news agency Wattan host: “Have instructions been given to the banks not to close the bank accounts?”

Abu Bakr: “Yes, through the central bank-”

Host: “Do you mean the [PA] Monetary Authority?”

Abu Bakr: “The Monetary Authority. The banks will be contacted [about] not closing the existing accounts…

[Facebook page of the PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs, Jan. 20, 2021]

While explaining that no comprehensive solution has yet been found, Abu Bakr emphasized that all the relevant PA functionaries – the PA Presidency and the PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh – are all making efforts to find a way to circumvent the Israeli anti-terrorism law and stressed that the salaries will be paid in some way:

“Great efforts are being made to pay the salaries of the Palestinian prisoners and released prisoners as soon as possible… Efforts are being made by the Palestinian [PA] presidency and [PA] Prime Minister [Muhammad Shtayyeh] to find alternatives for payment… the prisoners will be paid whether inside prison or outside of it at the first opportunity, [but] there are no comprehensive solutions for this issue as of now.”

[Sada News, Palestinian news agency, March 6, 2021]

As the time for the next payment of terrorist salaries is nearing, the PA is doing its best to calm the terrorists and the general Palestinian public, ensuring them in the words of Abbas, that the salaries will be paid, even “if we only have one penny”:

Official PA TV reporter: “Throughout the path of the struggle against the occupation, the leadership has shown great interest in the wounded and the families of the Martyrs. This became clear recently in His Honor [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas’ defiance of Israel’s attempts to deduct the salaries of the Martyrs and wounded from the tax money as collective punishment to starve their families” …

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas: “Since the Martyrs are the most sacred among us, and since the wounded are the most sacred among us , and since the prisoners are the most sacred among us, we cannot abandon them and their families. If we are left with only one penny, we will give it to their families.”

[Official PA TV News, March 13, 2021]

Despite all the difficulties the PA is encountering trying to guarantee that its terror reward program continues, one option to deceive the international community has been completely rejected by both the PA and the terrorists alike: Renaming the “salaries” and calling them “social welfare”:

Host: “There is also the idea of transferring [the salary payments] to the [PA] Ministry of Welfare. Is that still an option, or has it been rejected by the political echelon?”

Abu Bakr: “No, that is unacceptable to the prisoners and all the political echelons.”

[Facebook page of the PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs, Jan. 20, 2021]

PMW reported on a similar initiative in the past when the PA decided to change the word “salaries” to “assistance” to the terrorist prisoners. This was met with an outcry among the Palestinian public and the prisoners’ organizations. Then Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Karake rejected the renaming of the salaries as an incorrect “rumor” and explained that the prisoners are supported by the PA “out of esteem for their sacrifice and struggle,” i.e., as a reward for their actions. As PMW has already proven, the salaries the PA pays to the terrorist prisoners are not welfare payments.

Israeli army legislation which applies parts of Israel’s 2016 Anti-Terror Law to the West Bank (taking effect on May 9, 2020). The law prohibits numerous terror related offenses, including terror funding/rewarding and holds heads of terror organizations responsible for murder committed by members of the organization. The law criminalizes the provision of funds for or the payment of rewards for the commission of terrorist offenses, such as the salaries the PA pays to terrorist prisoners and released prisoners. The provision also applies to any person or body – such as a bank – that facilitates such funding or rewarding of terror offenses. Based on this last provision, PMW sent letters in April 2020 to the heads of banks in the PA areas warning them that they must freeze the accounts of terrorists and their proxies and transfer them to the Israeli army or face legal consequences.

Israel’s Anti “Pay-for-Slay” Law – Israeli law stating that the PA payments to terrorists and the families of dead terrorists is a financial incentive to terror. The law instructs the state to deduct and freeze the amount of money the PA pays in salaries to imprisoned terrorists and families of “Martyrs” from the tax money Israel collects for the PA. Should the PA stop these payments for a full year, the Israeli government would have the option of giving all or part of the frozen money to the PA. The law was enacted by the Israeli Parliament on July 2, 2018, and its first implementation was approved by Israel’s Security Cabinet on Feb. 17, 2019, when it decided to withhold 502,697,000 Israeli shekels (approximately $138 million) from the PA. In response, the PA announced it would not accept any of the tax money collected by Israel unless it also included the frozen amount. During the initial parliamentary vote in 2018, the law’s sponsor Avi Dichter said: “The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee received much help in its deliberations… from Palestinian Media Watch who provided us with authentic data that enabled productive and professional deliberations, nuances that are very difficult to achieve without precise data.” [Israeli Parliament website, July 2, 2018]

The following are longer excerpts of the statements cited above, and additional reports on the PA’s terrorist salaries:

Headline: “Abu Bakr: There are no comprehensive solutions on the topic of the prisoners’ salaries as of now
“Director of [PLO] Commission of Prisoners and Released Prisoners’ Affairs Qadri Abu Bakr said today, Saturday [March 6, 2021], that great efforts are being made to pay the salaries of the Palestinian prisoners and released prisoners as soon as possible (refers to measures to evade the application of much of Israel’s Anti-Terror Law to the West Bank, including rendering banks liable to punishment for facilitating PA terror salaries -Ed.).

In statements monitored by [the Palestinian news agency] Sada News, Abu Bakr explained that three months have been paid in advance to the prisoners, and that the period has not ended yet. Efforts are being made by the Palestinian [PA] presidency and [PA] Prime Minister [Muhammad Shtayyeh] to find alternatives for payment. He noted that the salaries to the prisoners will be paid whether inside prison or outside of it at the first opportunity, [but] there are no comprehensive solutions for this issue as of now.

Regarding dividing the [released] prisoners among the PA’s civil and military institutions, he said that there is a joint committee comprised of an expert team from the Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs, national insurance, the Tanzim (i.e., Fatah terror faction), the directorate, and the General Personnel Council, which is working on this issue.

Abu Bakr noted that the committee includes more than 60 employees who are working to sort the cases, and that a good part of the work has been done on this process.”

[Sada News, Palestinian news agency, March 6, 2021]

Director of PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs Qadri Abu Bakr: “We’ll talk with the banks and take a position against closing any existing account… Starting from Jan. 1, [2021], we paid [salaries] two months in advance, so that there would be time to find a mechanism to pay the prisoners and released prisoners. The prisoners also raised the topic of being absorbed [into the PA institutions]… There are forms. Not everyone filled them out, but we want to start with the forms that are ready. The prime minister promised that in a few days there will be a decision on the matter… It was emphasized that the prisoners’ cause – both those inside prison and those outside – is a sacred cause that must not be harmed…

Independent Palestinian news agency Wattan host: “Have instructions been given to the banks not to close the bank accounts?”

Qadri Abu Bakr: “Yes, through the central bank-”

Host: “Do you mean the [PA] Monetary Authority?”

Qadri Abu Bakr: “The Monetary Authority. The banks will be contacted [about] not closing the existing accounts…

Host: “We also heard that the release grants will be paid later on?”

Qadri Abu Bakr: “Right. We have received a commitment from the [PA] Ministry of Finance that their payment will be renewed… We will distribute them according to the priorities, and Allah willing by the end of the year we will finish [paying] all the grants.”

Host: “Has an amount been set? Is it true that $2 million per month will be paid to the [PLO] Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs to pay [the released prisoners]?

Qadri Abu Bakr: “It’s a matter of 2, 1 million, 1.5 million…

Host: “It has been suggested to transfer [the salary payments] to the [PA] Ministry of Welfare. Is that still an option, or has it been rejected by the political echelon?”

Qadri Abu Bakr: “No, that is unacceptable to the prisoners and all the political echelons.”

[Facebook page of the PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs, Jan. 20, 2021]

Headline: “The Bank of Palestine implements the [Israeli] military governor’s decision and freezes the prisoners’ accounts”

“The banks escalated their attack against the prisoners and the relatives of the Martyrs and the wounded, after they decided to freeze their bank accounts and gave them several days to withdraw their balances before the accounts would be closed.

A number of prisoners reported in recent days to [the Palestinian news website] Quds News Network that the banks prevented their attempts to deposit any additional money and informed them that they must withdraw the existing balances, due to the decision of the Israeli [military] governor in the West Bank banning the handling of these accounts coming into effect (refers to the application of much of Israel’s Anti-Terror Law to the West Bank, including rendering banks liable to punishment for facilitating PA terror salaries -Ed.).

Quds News Network has learned that there is a blacklist with many names of prisoners and relatives of Martyrs and wounded who are banned from even opening any kind of bank account, especially at the Bank of Palestine…

Abdallah Mahmoud, a wounded released prisoner, noted that the Bank of Palestine froze his bank account, prevented him from depositing money into the account, and refused to open an account for him separate from the bank account that was designated for him by the [PLO] Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs for the payment of his salary.

A number of Palestinian factions attacked the unilateral measures taken by the banks operating in Palestine, and especially the Bank of Palestine. The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) said that what is happening is submission to the Israeli pressures and acceding to the decision of the [Israeli] military governor in the West Bank.

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Political Bureau member Kayed Al-Ghoul told Quds News Network on behalf of the PFLP: ‘National decisions need to be made that will ensure the rights of the relatives of the Martyrs, the prisoners, and the wounded, without relating to the Israeli pressures.’ Al-Ghoul added: ‘The PA needs to fulfill a clear political role on this issue and not abandon the prisoners as victims of the Israeli decisions.’ …

On the same matter, sources in the banking system justified what happened and said that this is acceding to the decision of the [Israeli] military governor in the occupied West Bank, due to… the fear of being exposed to possible procedures and sanctions, including break-ins of the bank branches and the arrest of senior [bank] officials there. The sources, who asked to remain anonymous, told Quds News Network that the banks are in a situation of general misgivings due to the recent increase in popular pressure, even from the relatives of the prisoners, the Martyrs, and the wounded.”

[Quds News Network, Palestinian news website, Jan. 5, 2021]

Headline: “As of now there are no solutions for the prisoners’ salaries and the Independence Bank”

“The search continues for mechanisms to pay the salaries of the prisoners in the occupation’s prison and the released prisoners and to pay the allowances of the Martyrs’ families, after the Israeli military order came into effect determining that measures will be taken against the Palestinian banks if they continue to pay these salaries (refers to the application of much of Israel’s Anti-Terror Law to the West Bank, including rendering banks liable to punishment for facilitating PA terror salaries -Ed.)…

The implementation of the Israeli military order, in the shadow of the absence of an official Palestinian position or any kind of solution for the payment of the prisoners’ salaries other than through the banks, will turn the prisoners and the banks into victims of this order…

Recently a number of ideas have been raised in order to evade the Israeli military order, including appointing the released prisoners as employees in the PA institutions and turning the salaries of the prisoners in the occupation’s prison into allowances that will be paid through the [PA] Ministry of Welfare. A decision was made to establish the ‘Independence Bank’ as a national state bank in order to protect the banks from any kind of persecution by Israel.

As of now, no new instructions have been issued by the [PA] Monetary Authority on this matter in the shadow of the absence of an official position, which is liable to cause the banks to stand alone against the Israeli military order and any measure that will be taken as a result of it.

[The independent Palestinian news agency] Wattan contacted [PA] Government Spokesman Ibrahim Melhem to receive a response from him on the issue, but he did not answer the phone. Wattan also contacted the Monetary Authority to receive a response from it, but it did not respond and preferred to wait until an official position comes out on the issue.

The [PA-funded] Prisoners’ Club: No plan of any kind has been formulated yet

In response to this, Chairman of the Prisoners’ Club Qadura Fares told Wattan that ‘We will not allow the prisoners’ rights and salaries to be harmed.’ In order to avoid persecution by Israel, Fares explained that there will be a solution and that currently they are discussing many ideas on the matter, but no plan of any kind or solution for it has been formulated yet. He emphasized: ‘We cannot give statements regarding the ideas that we are discussing.’

The ‘Independence Bank’ is pending

Director of [PLO] Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs Qadri Abu Bakr told Wattan… that one of the options is to establish the ‘Independence Bank,’ but it appears that this will be useless because there are threats by the occupation against the bank and against the banks that will have connections with it, and because it has not been given a license, which prevents its work from starting…

Released prisoner Ahmed Musaffer demanded to find quick solutions to absorb the [released] prisoners into the PA institutions, and to find quick solutions for the salaries of the prisoners who are in prison. Musaffer told Wattan that they met last week with the Prisoners’ Club, the Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs, and the [PA] presidential committee that was appointed to the matter in order to discuss possible solutions including the state ‘Independence Bank,’ but according to what they learned it will not be effective and will not operate

He added: ‘We need to have a response within two days from the presidential committee and the [PA] Ministry of Finance, because [otherwise] we will begin to take steps on the ground, since [PA] President [Mahmoud Abbas] signed off on absorbing the released prisoners into the PA institutions and currently the names need to be transferred to the PA institutions.’

Musaffer expressed the absolute opposition of the prisoners and their relatives to transferring their salaries to the [PA] Ministry of Welfare.”

[Wattan, independent Palestinian news agency, Jan. 5, 2021]

Headline: “The banks have submitted to the occupation: The suspension of the prisoners’ accounts has begun”

“With the beginning of the new year, and in a surprising step, ‘Palestinian [PA] Monetary Authority’ Governor Azzam Al-Shawa, a resident of the Gaza Strip, announced his resignation ‘for personal reasons,’ according to an announcement by the ‘Monetary Authority.’ PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas accepted it quickly and declared the appointment of Fares Melhem, a resident of the occupied West Bank, to fill the governor’s position. Two days after the resignation and the new appointment, the first and largest Palestinian bank, ‘the Bank of Palestine,’ began to close the accounts of the prisoners in the Israeli enemy’s prison and their relatives. There is a connection between this step and Al-Shawa’s dismissal, as the pressure that was exerted on him to resign was attributed by sources in the PA to his position opposing the closure of the prisoners’ accounts. The head of the ‘Monetary Authority’ has the authority to order the banks to stop cooperating with the enemy’s decision (refers to the application of much of Israel’s Anti-Terror Law to the West Bank, including rendering banks liable to punishment for facilitating PA terror salaries -Ed.) and recant from closing the accounts of the prisoners and the Martyrs’ [families], as these banks are operating according to ‘the Palestinian Banking Law’.

The step by ‘the Bank of Palestine’ was not the first taken by the banks; other banks closed accounts already last May [2020] but did so quietly in [small] numbers with time intervals between them.

But what ‘the Bank of Palestine’ did at the beginning of the year was different. The sources revealed that behind the pressures that were exerted on Al-Shawa stand high-ranking senior officials in the PA who worked to renew the relations with the enemy last month [December 2020]…

The PA announced six months ago that it will establish a banking institution that will be subordinate to ‘the PLO,’ with which it will be able to pay their salaries in order to get the banks out of trouble… but Palestinian sources revealed that the measures to establish the bank hit difficulties due to… the possibility that the occupation will pressure it and the banks that will have connections with it, in addition to the possibility that the new bank will be persecuted, have its branches closed, and have its money confiscated.”

Al-Akhbar , Lebanese newspaper, Jan. 6, 2021)

Headline: “Palestine is paying the prisoners’ allowances before Israel imposes sanctions on the banks”

“On Tuesday [Dec. 29, 2020], the Palestinian [PA] government transferred the prisoners’ monthly allowances to their bank accounts for the months of December [2020] until February 2021, in order to avoid the ultimatum that Israel placed before the banks before imposing sanctions on them if they continue to be connected with them (refers to the application of much of Israel’s Anti-Terror Law to the West Bank, including rendering banks liable to punishment for facilitating PA terror salaries -Ed.).

The extension that Israel gave the banks that are active in the Palestinian market (of which there are 13) [parentheses in source] to stop any banking activity with the released prisoners (sic., all terrorists, including terrorist prisoners still in jail) will end on Dec. 31, which caused the banks to gradually close their accounts a number of months ago.
Director of [PLO] Commission of Prisoners and Released Prisoners’ Affairs Qadri Abu Bakr said that the government paid the released prisoners (sic., also terrorist prisoners still in jail, the families of dead terrorists, and the wounded terrorists) allowances for three months (this December and January and February 2021) [parentheses in source] today, until a channel is found to pay their allowances.

Abu Bakr told a reporter of [the Turkish state-run news agency] Anadolu in a phone conversation that the decision to pay for three months gives the government time to decide on an appropriate mechanism that will protect the released prisoners’ rights (sic., also the rights of terrorist prisoners still in jail, the families of dead terrorists, and the wounded terrorists) on everything regarding the transfer of the monthly payments to which they are eligible, without any pressures…
According to Abu Bakr, the number of accounts of the released prisoners stands at 7,500, and the overall cost of the prisoners and released prisoners’ [salaries] is approximately 50 million [Israeli] shekels ($15.6 million) per month…
In May [2020], the Palestinian government sped up the implementation of an old-new idea: Establishing a state bank, one of whose roles will be to transfer the payments to the prisoners and the Martyrs’ families instead of via the [other] banks, but this body is still in the process of being established.”

[Anadolu, Turkish state-run news agency, Dec. 29, 2020]

Headline: “Paying the prisoners and Martyrs’ salaries for three months through the banks, before the Israeli ban takes effect”
“Today, Tuesday [Dec. 29, 2020], the Palestinian banks began to pay allowances for three months to the families of the Martyrs, the wounded, and the prisoners through the ATMs.
The PA decided to pay the prisoners’ allowances for three months, of which two months are in advance for next year [2021], in order to avoid the Israeli decision that forbids the Palestinian banks from paying the prisoners’ allowances starting from the beginning of 2021 (refers to the application of much of Israel’s Anti-Terror Law to the West Bank, including rendering banks liable to punishment for facilitating PA terror salaries -Ed.).”

[Amad, independent Palestinian news website, Dec. 29, 2020]

Al-Araby TV Interviewer: “The prisoners’ cause: At the beginning you refused to accept the tax money [as long as it had been] deducted or cut by the Israeli side, or the Israeli occupation, but afterwards you accepted the tax money in full despite Israel’s insistence on the deduction (refers to Israel’s Anti “Pay-for-Slay” Law to deduct PA terror salaries; see note below -Ed.). There are those who would say, or would ask the PA and the government: Have you abandoned the prisoners, and what are the alternative solutions for them?”

Muhammad Shtayyeh: “Madam, you know and all the people watching your show know for certain that we are fully committed. We have not abandoned the prisoners, and we will not abandon the prisoners. The prisoners’ cause is a sacred cause. They have rights, and we must protect this. That is on the one hand. On the other hand, Israel and the US imposed sanctions on us due to our commitment to the prisoners. In any case we will protect the sanctity of this cause. The prisoners’ cause has two parts – one is political, which is with the Americans, the Israelis, and so on, and if the connections with the Americans develop this will require a discussion. But the most important thing is that there are financial rights for the prisoners. We will remain committed to them in every way.”

Interviewer: “You have spoken about establishing a bank that may-”

Muhammad Shtayyeh: “The bank is not for the prisoners. The bank is not for the prisoners. The bank is for development and investment. Transferring the problem from the commercial banks to a governmental bank will not solve the problem. What we want is to solve the problem in its political aspect. From our perspective the prisoners’ issue is a national honor, honor of the struggle. In general, we- There is Israeli incitement that the issue of paying the salaries– Okay, we are paying canteen [allowances] to the prisoners who are in the prisons. If we are late by a day or two the Israelis start to say: Why didn’t you pay the canteen [allowances] of [the prisoners]-”

Interviewer: “It will be deducted.”

Muhammad Shtayyeh: “It will be deducted and the like. In any case, in the clause [regarding] the prisoners, we are fully committed towards our brothers. They have rights, and we have an obligation towards them, and we will fulfill it…”

[Facebook page of PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh, Jan. 22, 2021]

Headline: “Abu Bakr to Al-Quds: The prisoners’ salaries are expected to be paid next month, we are determined to transfer them to the banks”

“Director of [PLO] Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs Qadri Abu Bakr announced that the Palestinian leadership is holding contacts at the highest levels with the American administration, with the Europeans, and with the Israeli authorities in order to find a solution that will allow the renewal of paying the salaries of the prisoners in the occupation’s prison and the released prisoners (refers to the application of much of Israel’s Anti-Terror Law to the West Bank, including rendering banks liable to punishment for facilitating PA terror salaries -Ed.).

In an exclusive phone statement to Al-Quds, Abu Bakr said: ‘We hope that the payment of the salaries via the banks will be renewed in April [2021].’ He noted: ‘A team of 64 employees in the commission and in other institutions is working even on vacation days to arrange this matter, which is sacred from our perspective.’

Abu Bakr said that the released prisoners who were assigned to the [PA] security and military forces as part of arranging their status – 7,500 in number – will receive a payment according to their new financial limitations in these institutions (apparently refers to the institutions’ salary arrangements -Ed). Regarding the prisoners in prison who have received part of their salaries from the forces they belong to while the commission completed the remainder, he said that their problem has been resolved; it was determined that the one responsible for the payment [in full] is the forces, whether the security forces or the military forces.

Abu Bakr explained that approximately 1,500 released prisoners suffering from health problems will not be asked to come to work in the forces (but apparently will still receive salary -Ed.), while those aged 60 or older will be put on pension. Those under this age will be integrated into the institutions to which they were assigned.

He emphasized that the commission is insisting that the prisoners’ salaries be paid via the banks and not in any other way, and expressed hope that the Palestinian leadership will succeed in reaching an agreement on the matter with the aforementioned parties.”

[alquds.com, website of the paper Al-Quds, March 11, 2021]

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