Tuesday, May 26, 2015

PA deception, antisemitism, and terrorism


Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch, appeared before Dutch, British and German parliamentarians last week to present PMW's new report entitled: "Is the PA lying to Western donors? The PA claims to have stopped paying salaries to prisoners; PMW's evidence shows otherwise."  
The MPs of three parliaments expressed condemnation of PA practices, from rewarding terrorism to promoting violence and glorifying murder of Jews.
 
3 members of British Parliament Guto Bebb, James Morris and Andrew Percy:
"British taxpayers will be appalled to discover that the Palestinian Authority is handing their hard-earned money to convicted Palestinian terrorists. The PA should be strongly condemned for deceiving well-intentioned donor countries into thinking that it had ended this shocking practice. The British Government must seriously reconsider its provision of aid to the PA's general budget until it ceases this abhorrent practice of financially rewarding and incentivising terrorism."

Member of Dutch Parliament, C.G. van der Staaij:
"It is important that the sowing of hatred is stopped... We still find in the official Palestinian media numerous Anti-Semitic statements, the glorification of violence and hatred, and honoring terrorists. I have read the reports from Palestinian Media Watch carefully."

Member of German Parliament, Albert Weiler:
"It should not be possible for anti-democratic terror organizations to murder Jews or Christians in the name of their religion. We must fight this strongly. And the whole world should be doing it together."

For years, Western donor countries have been demanding that the PA stop paying salaries to convicted Palestinian terrorist prisoners. The PA finally claimed to have stopped paying the salaries last August 2014, when the PA Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs, the body responsible for paying the salaries, was changed into a PLO Commission of Prisoners' Affairs. The PA stated repeatedly to their own people that the change was only a change in name, but that none of the salaries or other benefits to prisoners would be changed. They stressed that by transferring the responsibility for paying the prisoners' salaries to the PLO, the Europeans and the US would not stop funding the PA.

However, PMW's new report presents significant documentation that challenges the PA claim that the PA is no longer paying salaries. One of the key indicators exposed in the new PMW report:
In March of this year, when the PA was short on money, it cut the salaries of all civil servants to 60% of their regular salaries. The next day, the PA Ministry of Finance announced the same reduction in salaries to prisoners. Had the PLO been paying prisoners' salaries from non-PA money, then salaries to prisoners should not have been affected by the PA shortage of resources.

Conclusion of the PMW report:
"This report exposes that the PA's creation of a PLO Commission of Prisoners' Affairs to fulfill the same services previously supplied by the PA Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs, was done solely to satisfy Western donors' demands that the PA cease paying salaries to terrorist prisoners. This report further documents that the existence of the PLO Commission has not changed the policy of paying salaries to terrorists. The PLO commission may have been created for the sole purpose of deceiving the European donors, who don't want their money to the PA to be used to reward terrorists. The PA continues to pay salaries to terrorists in prison in spite of European and US demands that donor money to the PA not be used to reward terrorists."

The following is the introduction and executive summary of the report:  

2011
PMW exposes that the PA pays high salaries to terrorists in prison

2012 -2014
Western donors threaten to stop funding the PA because of this policy of rewarding murderers

August 2014
PA issues "presidential decree" that salaries to terrorist prisoners would no longer be paid by PA but by PLO

2015
Western donors are giving the PA more than a billion dollars, with the understanding that the PA has stopped paying salaries to terrorists

May 2015
PMW documentation challenges PA claim:
- The PA Ministry of Finance continues to pay salaries to terrorist prisoners
- PA continues to set conditions for the salaries to terrorist prisoners

Conclusion
Western donors may have been intentionally misled by the PA, which continues to pay salaries to imprisoned terrorists

Executive Summary
The Palestinian Authority receives over a billion dollars in international aid yearly. Several EU countries and the US have been threatening to stop this funding ever since Palestinian Media Watch exposed in 2011 that the PA pays high salaries to terrorist prisoners and released terrorists, amounting to over $150 million dollars in 2015 alone. For example, in June 2014, Dutch Parliament voted overwhelmingly, 148 - 2, in favor of demanding the cessation of PA salaries to terrorists.  
In order to continue receiving donor funding, in August 2014, the PA closed the PA Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs and announced the establishment of a new PLO Commission of Prisoners' Affairs, which they claimed would pay the salaries.

However, the PLO Commission was new only in name. The PLO body would have the same responsibilities and pay the exact same amounts of salaries to prisoners; the former PA Minister of Prisoners' Affairs, Issa Karake, became the Director of the new PLO Commission and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas retained overall supervision of the PLO Commission. (All sources in report) 

In spite of these mere cosmetic changes, the international community accepted PA assurances that it was no longer paying the salaries to terrorist prisoners. For instance, see this statement issued by the Dutch government:
"The responsibility for payments to prisoners was transferred to the PLO and will no longer be charged to the budget of the PA, and these [payments to prisoners] are not funded by PA tax revenues or donor funds. The PLO pays such costs from their own income, where the Cabinet has no access."
[Question and Answer session, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, April 22, 2015]

Palestinian Media Watch has now uncovered ample evidence that contradicts the PA assurances to the Dutch and other donors. PMW's findings are based entirely on information supplied by the PA:
- In October 2014, the PA announced that there were more than 200,000 recipients of PA salaries. This figure "includes the families of the Martyrs (Shahids) and wounded, as well as the prisoners' and released [prisoners]." (All sources below in full report)
- In January 2015, the PA Ministry of Finance announced that the PA budget includes transfer of salaries to prisoners in Israeli jails, who were from Gaza.
- When Israel withheld PA tax income in the first months of 2015, the PA announced that prisoners receiving more than 2,000 shekels would only receive 60% of their salary -- the same reduction that was imposed on civil servants. Were the PLO paying salaries from Arab donor money and not the PA, Israel's holding up PA money would have no impact on terrorist prisoners' salaries. Clearly, it is still PA money paying terrorist prisoners' salaries.

Western donors should ask the following question: Was the new PLO Commission of Prisoners' Affairs created for the sole purpose of deceiving Western donors regarding the payment of salaries to terrorists?


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