The more serious the crime the more money the criminal receives after going to prison.
Absurd? Yes. True? Yes again.
When a Palestinian Arab terrorist murders an Israeli or an American in Israel, they can wind up receiving a generous salary, in excess of $40,000 a year, for their crime. And if you are a US taxpayer, you are footing part of the tab.
As chairman of House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade, I recently held a hearing on “Threats to Israel: Terrorist Funding and Trade Boycotts.”
One of the expert witnesses who testified before the committee was Edwin Black, an investigative reporter and New York Times bestselling author. In his detailed and heavily documented account Black explains how this morally outrageous system works.
The United States gives to the Palestinian Authority (PA ) hundreds of millions of US dollars each year, as do other donor countries. The PA then spends this money. One of the PA ’s top budget priorities is to pay the salaries of Palestinian terrorists who have been convicted of murdering, or attempting to murder, Israelis – with higher salaries doled out on a sliding scale.
The more ghastly the atrocity and the higher the prison sentence, the greater the PA salary.
The moment a Palestinian is convicted of an act of terror – “violent resistance” is the Palestinians’ preferred propaganda term – against Israel, whether against a soldier or civilian, that convicted terrorist is automatically entered into the PA ’s public payroll to receive a generous monthly salary (to be paid from the date of his or her arrest, not conviction). Salaries range from around $400 a month to up to $3,400 a month – up to 10 times the average pay earned by many working Palestinians, according to Black.
This policy of automatically putting Palestinian terrorists on the official PA payroll is enshrined in official PA public law – known as the “Palestinian Law of the Prisoner.” This law has been unofficially on the books since the PA came into existence in 1993 following the Oslo Peace Accords, and was then regularized, formalized and made official in 2004. The salaries are administered by the PA ’s Ministry of Prisoner Affairs, established in 1998.
These payments amount to almost $10 million a month in some years and constitute around six percent of the PA ’s annual budget, according to the PA ’s own Finance Ministry. According to Palestinian Media Watch, an Israeli-based NGO, the PA paid $100m. to terrorists in 2013.
There is even a semi-official Palestinian watchdog group called the Prisoners Club which ensures the PA ’s compliance with the law and pushes for payments as a prioritized expenditure.
So that even during the PA ’s frequent budget shortfalls and financial crises, these terrorists’ salaries will be paid before any other fiscal obligations.
The Prisoner’s Club was established in 1994, and operates on funds received from the PA budget.
Beyond these official salaries, and periodic bonuses, these terrorists are lauded by the PA and the Palestinian culture as heroes, and their children are accorded special status, including tuition breaks at PA academic institutions.
These payments are not welfare to the families of “violent resistance” fighters, but actual salaries to them, to be disbursed by power of attorney to whomever they, the terrorist, choose – could be to family, a mistress, or even a terrorist organization. The terrorist retains total control of his or her salary.
Indeed the promise of a generous PA salary is itself, perhaps, a cause of Palestinian terrorism. One convicted Palestinian terrorist, Husni Najjar, for example, recently told Israeli police that he planned a second, fictitious terror attack against Israelis because he knew he would receive a hefty salary from the PA if he was imprisoned for it. His previous offense was helping to plan a suicide bombing which was foiled. For this act of terrorism he received about $13,000 in total from the PA in salary. That amount was not enough for him. With his second conviction he was hoping to increase that tenfold to pay for his recent wedding and cover his debts.
Using US taxpayer dollars to reward and incentivize terrorism against civilians is not merely illegal, but sickening and immoral. Money is fungible, however, meaning that the millions of American taxpayers’ dollars we give to the PA frees up an exactly equal amount of millions to be spent in any way the PA wishes, free of all American restrictions.
So in a very real sense, every US dollar given to the PA serves as an indirect American taxpayer subsidy of whatever the PA chooses to spend its money on, including activities that are illegal under US law and activities that the United States otherwise opposes and seeks to stop. This is even assuming – perhaps a very big assumption for a famously corrupt governing authority – that not a single dollar of US taxpayer monies gifted to the PA ’s general budget to help them make payroll is ever diverted or misappropriated directly by the PA for such purposes.
Even more galling, some of these salaried PA terrorists have killed and maimed US citizens! What is to be done? First and foremost, we need to stop subsidizing Palestinian Arab terrorists. We can start by halting all funding to the PA until they abolish the Law of the Prisoner.
Short of this, we can halt all direct budgetary assistance – there is no reason why the US taxpayer needs to help the PA make payroll while such “employees” are on the public paybill.
Paying terrorists for committing crime is absurd folly. American taxpayers and the families of victims deserve better. If anything, money should be going to the victims. In any event, we do not need to pay terrorists to kill Israelis and Americans. They will do it anyway.
And that’s just the way it is.
The author is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and chairman of the Terrorism Subcommittee.