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PA: We won't stop payments to 'martyrs' and prisoners

"If we are left with one penny, we will spend it on the families of the prisoners and martyrs."
By Khaled Abu Toameh

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas vowed on Monday to continue funding Palestinian security prisoners held by Israel and families of Palestinians killed in attacks on Israelis.

Abbas was speaking during a meeting held in his Ramallah office with families and relatives of Palestinian “martyrs” and former security prisoners.

He was referring to the newly passed "Pay for Slay" law that allows Jerusalem to withhold tax funds to the PA as long as the Palestinians continue to pay terrorists and their families. He was also referring to the Taylor Force Act, a US legislative bill that proposes to halt economic aid to the PA until it stops paying stipends to individuals who commit acts of terrorism and to the families of terrorists killed in anti-Israel attacks.

“We will not cut or prevent stipends to the families of the prisoners and martyrs, as some are trying to do,” Abbas was quoted as saying during the meeting, which was also attended by senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub, who himself is a former security prisoner.

“If we are left with one penny, we will spend it on the families of the prisoners and martyrs.”

Abbas said the Palestinians consider the “martyrs” and prisoners as “stars in the sky of the Palestinian national struggle, and they have preference in everything.”

He pointed out that in 1965 his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, established an institution to care for the families of “martyrs” and fighters “because they are the pioneers and should be taken care of. And we will look take care of them.”

Abbas hailed the Palestinian security prisoners held by Israel, saying they “pave the way for the liberation of Palestine.”

The PA stipends benefit some 35,000 families of Palestinians killed, wounded or jailed in the conflict with Israel, many of whom were involvement in terrorism. Israel has repeatedly criticized the Palestinian Authority Martyrs Fund as encouraging terrorism.

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