The Palestinian Authority paid more than NIS 512 million ($157m.) in salaries to incarcerated or released terrorists in 2020, Palestinian Media Watch reported Monday.
The amount constituted 3.25% of the PA’s budget for last year, it said in a report. The PA paid about NIS 517m. to incarcerated or released terrorists in 2019, it said.
The total amount paid to incarcerated or released terrorists in 2020 was more than NIS 512m. because those who had previously been employed by the PA continue receiving their salaries while in prison, according to PA budgetary regulations.
The PA also has a “martyr’s fund” for the families of those killed while committing or attempting acts of terrorism. It includes monthly salaries, free education, insurance, medical care and more.
PMW’s analysis of the PA budget found that it attempted to hide the terrorist payments, likely because of transparency required by international donors.
In 2020, the PA removed the category it once called the “Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs,” through which the terrorist salaries had been paid in 2018-2019, in an apparent attempt to hide the payments.
However, Palestinian officials continued to tout the terrorist payments throughout the year and did not say they had stopped. Instead, the payments were funneled through the PLO, whose budget more than quadrupled last year, from NIS 161m. ($49m.) to NIS 673m. ($206m.).
The difference, NIS 512m., is the amount paid to incarcerated or released terrorists, PMW said.
The PA used this method for its terrorist payments in 2015-2017, it said.
Unlike the PA, which receives international funding, the PLO does not have accountability requirements for the international community regarding its budget.
Further evidence that the transfers to the PLO were for terrorists is that throughout 2020, they had a range of NIS 35m. to NIS 58m. ($11m.-$18m.) per month. However, in December, after the PA announced it would pay terrorist salaries for three months at once, the amount transferred to the PLO spiked to more than NIS 121m. ($37m.)
This corresponded with Israeli anti-terrorism legislation that came into effect on December 30, 2020, prohibiting any bank transactions meant to reward terrorism, thereby preventing the PA from using local banks to pay terrorist salaries.
“If the international community is going to continue funding the PA, it is inexcusable that the donor countries permit the PA to hide such a significant part of its budget under the nontransparent ‘PLO institutions’ listing,” PMW said.
“The only way the donor countries will know how the PA is spending its donor money is if they demand that in future listings the PA specify in its ‘expenditure reports’ in detail what the PLO is doing with the money,” it said. “This is not only necessary in the interest of transparency, but it is critical in order to monitor and eventually stop the PA’s ongoing incentivizing and funding of terror.”
According to a law passed in 2018, Israel deducts the amount the Palestinian Authority pays terrorists and their families from the full amount of taxes and tariffs it collects for the PA.