Palestinian prisoners who were released from Israeli prisons as part of a prisoners exchange deal between Israel and Hamas wave from a bus .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority claims to have stopped paying salaries to convicted terrorists in Israeli prisons is a ruse intended to dupe Western countries into continuing financial support of the PA, according to a report released Sunday by Palestinian Media Watch.
The report was published before a meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) meeting scheduled for Wednesday in Brussels. The AHLC, established in 1993 during the Oslo process, is the principal mechanism for international aid to the Palestinian Authority.
According to the report, written by PMW director Itamar Marcus, the PA in August 2014 announced that it had closed its Ministry of Prisoners Affairs, which funneled monthly salaries to terrorists, because of pressure from Western donors.
Rather than a PA ministry, a PLO Commission of Prisoners Affairs – purportedly independent of the PA and its funding – was set up to pay the salaries.
The international community, according to the report, largely accepted these changes as assurance the PA was no longer paying salaries to terrorists.
“However,” the report read, “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 President Mahmoud Abbas retained overall supervision of the PLO Commission.”
The Palestinian Authority declined to comment on the report.
According to the report, based on comments made by Palestinian officials, the perpetually financially strapped PA spent $144 million in 2014 paying salaries to incarcerated and release prisoners.
The report recommended that Western donors “ask whether the PLO Commission for Prisoners Affairs was created for the sole purpose of deceiving Western donors regarding the payment of salaries to terrorists.”
Meanwhile, donors meeting in Brussels on Wednesday will read a report submitted by UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov highlighting the challenges to putting the PA’s finances on solid footing.
“While the recent release of outstanding tax revenues by Israel is welcome, it is essential that agreement on a sustainable solution on tax collection in line with the Paris Protocol of the Oslo Accords is reached,” the report reads.
The report asserts that the current “untenable status quo” between Israel and the Palestinians will “inexorably lead to the continued erosion of living conditions for Palestinians and for Israelis alike and will undermine the security and stability of all.”
Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.