A bipartisan group of 30 Democrat and 20 Republican congress members wrote to US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Tuesday for an update on US plans to end the Palestinian Authority’s ‘pay-for-slay’ scheme.
Under the current ‘pay-for-slay’ scheme, called the "Martyrs’ Fund" by the PA, terrorists receive monetary payments as a reward for acts of terror. The more damage an attack causes, the higher the terrorist or the terrorist’s family is paid.
The scheme currently costs the PA $300 million annually (approximately NIS 1 billion) and amounts to 8% of the PA’s budget.
The United States discontinued funding to the Palestinian Authority in 2014 after it refused to cease the scheme. In 2018, US Congress continued its efforts to dissuade the PA from incentivizing terror, through passing the Taylor Force Act. The act prevents US aid to the West Bank from being accessed by the PA.
What did the letter say?
“Over the past few weeks, we have witnessed disturbing violence in the region as innocent civilians in Israel fall victim to terrorist attacks,” the congressional members wrote. “Since the start of the year, cold-blooded murders of Israelis have been celebrated by perpetrators and supporters of Palestinian terror.”
“Deeply concerned by the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to condemn these senseless killings, and in particular, their ongoing incentivizing of terror through the egregious “pay-for-slay” program, we ask that you report to Congress on ongoing efforts to end this practice.
The letter also cited Akram Rajoub, mayor of Jenin, who said, “PA will not stop the transfer of funds...President Abbas made it clear that the Palestinian Authority will not stop funding the families of our martyrs even if we are down to the last penny.” Only a few days after Rajoub made the statement, a Palestinian terrorist murdered 7 people in Jerusalem, an attack celebrated in the West Bank and Gaza with fireworks and music.
“The Palestinian Authority has clearly continued down the path of more hatred, violence, and terror, without regard for the damage inflicted, or for their role in diminishing the prospects for peace,” the letter continued. “But, so long as they pay citizens to murder civilians, they will do so without benefiting from the support of United States taxpayers.”
“We know that the Administration shares the view that support for terrorism and the Palestinians’ characterization of the martyr payment system as a form of social welfare is unacceptable. Yet, five years after the Taylor Force Act was signed into law, the PA continues to bolster the Martyrs’ Fund. To maintain a political horizon in support of a viable two-state solution, the PA cannot continue this depraved practice
“As such, we encourage the State Department to update Congress on the status of negotiating an end to the “pay-for-slay” program, and urge the Administration to continue to raise this issue with Palestinian officials. The United States is a trusted regional partner, and must utilize this unique position to bring an end to a system that has harmed so many.”
International controversy surrounding paying for ‘pay-for-slay’
As the Jerusalem Post reported on July 12, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office refused to disclose how it ensures its funding for the Palestinian Authority does not go to incentivizing terrorism, it said in response to a freedom of information request from pro-Israel organizations.
The FCDO website states that it is prioritizing “helping the Palestinian Authority to build strong institutions and enable them to deliver essential services, including policing, health, and education.”
We Believe in Israel and B’nai B’rith UK submitted a freedom of information petition, calling on the Foreign Office to publish documents concerning how British aid to the PA is audited.
The two NGOs sought, in light of the recent murder of UK citizens Lucy, Maia and Rina Dee in a Palestinian terror attack, to establish whether British taxpayer funds were going to the “pay-for-slay” program, by which the PA pays a monthly salary to terrorists in Israeli prisons and the families of terrorists killed by Israel.
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report