Israel objects to Britain over aid indirectly funding Palestinian convicts
(SOURCE) During his recent visit to Israel, the Prime Minister delivered a high-profile speech to the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. “In me,” he said, “you have a British Prime Minister whose belief in Israel is unbreakable, and whose commitment to Israel’s security will always be rock solid”.
But according to a senior Israeli government source, behind the scenes Israeli officials were raising serious concerns with the British delegation about the relationship between UK aid money, the Palestinian Authority, and reward payments to terrorists.
The Israeli charge is grave: that British aid to the Palestinian government – worth £343 million between 2011 and 2015 – is funding generous salaries and bonuses to about 5,000 convicted terrorists. This money, they say, not only rewards terror, but also exacerbates the threat by diluting the deterrent of a prison sentence.
At the heart of the allegations is an Israeli NGO called Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), which for years has been monitoring statements by Palestinian Authority officials in Arabic media, as well as gathering documents from security sources.
It has revealed that under 2004 Palestinian legislation known as the Palestinian Law of the Prisoner, people convicted of terror offences are immediately placed on the Palestinian Authority payroll. The salaries are reserved for those “resisting the occupation”, not those guilty of other crimes.
The more serious the offence, the more money is paid. Based on Palestinian documents, PMW says that the longest-serving terrorists receive £2,075 per month, plus bonuses for wives and children. Grants made upon release can be as much as £50,000. The average Palestinian wage is about £312 per month.
In 2013, the Palestinian Authority (PA) paid more than £60 million to those convicted of terror offences; of this, £9 million was paid as bonuses when terrorists were released. In February, the Palestinian Authority announced that this bonus pot would be increased to £27 million.
A component of this money could be interpreted as legitimate welfare payments, allocated to prisoners to spend in the canteen, or to unemployed ex-convicts. But at least £43 million is awarded directly to terrorists, who are perceived to deserve it for “resisting the occupation”.
Britain is a major supporter of the Palestinian Authority, donating about £86 million per year. Dfid maintains that payments to terrorists are not taken directly from the British aid account. But the Palestinian government is heavily reliant on international aid, which accounts for 40 per cent of its £2.5 billion annual budget.
The Palestinian Authority continues to pay between four and six per cent of its own resources to convicted terrorists, a huge sum that is proportionally roughly equivalent to Britain’s entire defence budget (which stands at 4.5 per cent).