“We will never stop paying the families of the martyrs and the prisoners, despite the efforts to prevent us from doing so,” said Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas.
He vowed that he would not cut payments to families of terrorists despite an Israeli law punishing his government for doing so.
Abbas warned that “even if we only have a penny left, we are going to first put it toward these payments.”
The Knesset recently enacted a law on to financially penalize the P.A. for paying stipends to terrorists imprisoned in Israel and their families. The law allows Israel to withhold various tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinians as a means of pressuring the P.A. to stop this practice, which has been referred to as “pay to slay.”
Israel has long pushed for the Palestinians to halt the stipends and has said the practice encourages violence. Among the beneficiaries are families of suicide-bombers and other terrorists involved in deadly attacks.
The stipends total approximately $330 million, or roughly 7 percent of the Palestinian Authority’s $5 billion budget in 2018.
Abbas’s statement on Tuesday was made at a meeting with activists promoting the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. Abbas said the prisoners of those who “martyred” themselves for the Palestinian cause were the stars of the struggle against Israel, and that’s why they and their families must remain a top priority.
Abbas recalled the late Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat’s decision to establish an organization to take care of families of prisoners, saying this was one of the first things he did as a Palestinian activist. Abbas went on to award released prisoners honorary medals.