MEMRI Daily Brief | July 6, 2016
MEMRI President Yigal Carmon's Testimony To House Committee On Foreign
Affairs, July 6, 2016: Palestinian Authority Support For Imprisoned,
Released, And Wounded Terrorists And Families Of 'Martyrs'
By: Yigal Carmon*
The following is written testimony submitted to the House Committee on
Foreign Affairs, July 6, 2016, by Yigal Carmon, President and Founder, The
Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Washington, D.C.
Mr. Chairman, Ranking Members, and Members of the Committee,
My testimony today is dedicated to a persistent problem: the financial and
other support given by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to those who have
continued their terrorist activities after the Oslo Accords, in which Yasser
Arafat made a commitment, on behalf of the Palestinian people, to stop all
By providing this support, the PA is encouraging terrorism in violation of
its Oslo commitment.
Furthermore, the PA has been using money granted by donor countries for this
purpose, and by doing so, has made them complicit in encouraging terrorism
The details of this support, which I will cite in my testimony, may sound
somewhat tedious, and I apologize for this in advance. They are taken both
from the Palestinian media and from official PA records, available online.
MEMRI, as you may know, has been monitoring and analyzing the Middle East
media for nearly 20 years. My testimony today is based not only on an
analysis of the PA 2016 budget, but on years of research.
Details of the PA Support for Terrorists
The PA transfers the funds through two PLO organizations:
The National Palestinian Fund, which transfers moneys for the prisoners and
released prisoners (further to be disbursed by the Commission for Detainees
and Ex-Detainees Affairs)
The Institute for Care for the Families of Martyrs, which transfers moneys
for the families of martyrs.
This financial support for prisoners is anchored in a series of laws and
government decrees, chiefly Laws No. 14 and No. 19 of 2004, and Law No. 1 of
2013. The prisoners are described as "a fighting sector and an integral part
of the weave of Arab Palestinian society" and it is stated that "the
financial rights of the prisoner and his family" must be assured. It is also
stated that the PA will provide the allowance to "every prisoner, without
According to the laws, the PA must provide prisoners with a monthly
allowance during their incarceration and salaries or jobs upon their
release. They are also entitled to exemptions from payments for education,
health care, and professional training. Their years of imprisonment are
calculated as years of seniority of service in PA institutions. It should be
noted that whoever was imprisoned for five years or more is entitled to a
job in a PA institution. Thus, the PA gives priority in job placement to
people who were involved in terrorist activity.
Palestinian President Mahmoud 'Abbas has stressed more than once that "the
prisoners are top priority." As a result of this commitment, the PA invests
significant sums in underwriting the expenses of the prisoners and their
families - $137.8 million according to the PA's 2016 budget (about 7% of
which is for officials' salaries and operating expenses) (see Appendix,
Figure 1). Over the years, the Palestinian government has taken a series of
decisions implementing the laws.
The allowances are currently paid based on PA Government Decision No. 23 of
2010, which specifies the prisoners' monthly allowance according to length
of sentence. It ranges from $364 a month for up to three years imprisonment
to $3,120 for 30 years and more. There is a $78 supplement for terrorists
from Jerusalem and a $130 supplement for Arab Israeli terrorists. (For the
full chart, see Appendix, Figure 2):
The PA also provides prisoners with a monthly allowance for canteen
expenses, totaling $780,000 per month.
Although the law states that prisoners should be given allowances "without
discrimination," sometimes the PA has cut allowances for political reasons.
For example, in December 2015, allowances were cut from $338 to $208 for
released prisoners who are members of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, and,
recently, for members of the PFLP as well, following political tension
between these organizations and the PA.
This political decision aroused the protest of the director of the
Commission for Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs, 'Issa Qaraqe', who said
that "it is unacceptable for the Ministry of Finance to cut a prisoner's
salary." His statement proves two things: that it is the PA that is funding
these allowances and that the PA can and does cut allowances to prisoners
when it wishes.
In May 2014, An Administrative Change Took Place
'Abbas issued a presidential order according to which the payments to
prisoners would no longer be made by the PA's Ministry of Prisoners'
Affairs. Instead, they would be disbursed by a PLO Commission for Detainees
and Ex-Detainees Affairs.
The aim of this deliberately misleading move was to alleviate pressure on
the PA by donor countries that do not wish their money to be channeled to
support terrorism. However, the offices remained the same and the official
in charge remained the same under a new job title. The source of the money
remains the PA, which receives them from donor countries, and the overseeing
body remains none other than the PA.
Several High-Ranking Palestinian Officials Have Addressed This Change:
In June 2014, the former Deputy Minister for Prisoners' Affairs, Ziyad Abu
'Ayn, explained that "the national interest requires" this change because
the donor countries "have established dozens of investigative committees
focusing on the issue of [their] funds that are transferred from the PA to
PA officials have admitted that the PA remains the financer and the
decision-maker in all things pertaining to support for the prisoners and the
For example, in September 2014, the director for detainees and ex-detainees
affairs in Hebron, Ibrahim Najajra, said that the change of status from
ministry to commission "would not detract from the prisoners' value or from
their legal, moral, or political status, since the services extended to them
are anchored in law." He added that the commission would be under the direct
supervision of the Palestinian presidency, and that the payments would be
made directly by the PLO's National Palestinian Fund.
In December 2015, PA Cabinet Secretary 'Ali Abu Diyak announced that the PA
government was committed to continuing to pay allowances to fighters
imprisoned for their national struggle and to the families of the martyrs,
the wounded, and the prisoners.
Let Me Move To The PA Support For Families Of "Martyrs"
The 2016 budget describes the PLO's Institute for Care for the Families of
Martyrs as the body "responsible for ensuring a dignified life to the
families of all those martyred and wounded as a result of being participants
or bystanders in the revolution."
Read The Full Report
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