PA determined to remit terror salary payments in defiance of Israeli law

The PA has declared its intention to continue paying terrorists' salaries through banks in the region, leaving the institutions vulnerable to prosecution.

Money seized by the police and Shin Bet from a terrorist's family in east Jerusalem (photo credit: COURTESY ISRAEL POLICE)
Money seized by the police and Shin Bet from a terrorist's family in east Jerusalem
The Palestinian Authority has announced its intention to pay salaries to terrorists through banks active in the West Bank within the next few days, in defiance of Israeli law, according to the NGO Palestinian Media Watch (PMW).
Israeli legislation which came into force on May 9 states that any person who conducts any transaction involving assets, including money, to facilitate, further, fund, or reward a person for carrying out terror related offenses is committing an offensive, the penalty for which is up to ten years imprisonment and a substantial fine. This would apply to the employees of banks which handle PA payments for terrorism, and would leave the banks themselves open to criminal and civil proceedings against them.
In early May many banks in the territory began closing accounts belonging to terrorists and their families as a result. However, statements made by PA official in recent days reveal that the Authority plans to continue to pay the salaries through the current banking system for another four months, while it sets up an alternative institution subordinate to the PLO.
During those four months, the banks will be in violation of the Israeli law.
The account closures followed the issuing of warning letters by PMW which advised the banks of their potential exposure to legal proceedings should they handle the salary payments.
Itamar Marcus, Director of PMW told The Jerusalem Post that the PA's insistence on using the banks while it sets up an alternative institution was indicative of the zeal the Authority had for rewarding terror.
"There is nothing that so clearly shows the PA to be a terror supporting entity as its obsession to financially reward terrorists, including terrorist mass murderers," Marcus said. "Moreover, because PA terror salaries guarantee financial security to terrorists who are imprisoned and to the families of killed terrorists, the terror rewards also incentivize terror."
Consequently, the onus was on the Israeli authorities to ensure that they carried through with their threat of legal action, Marcus told the Post.
"It should be the highest priority for the Israeli government to force the PA to stop paying these terror rewards," he said. "I can only hope that Israel will prosecute to the full extent of the law any Palestinian banks that defy Israel and continue to be the conduit for terror funding."
On Monday, the official PA news agency WAFA reported that in a telephone conversation with their correspondent, Director of (PLO) Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs Qadri Abu Bakr said that it was imperative for the payments to continue as halting the payments would be harmful to the history of the prisoners and those killed carrying out terror attacks, their sacrifices, and the Palestinian struggle.
The decision to do so through the current banking system until a new banking institution under the PLO could be formed was taken at a meeting held on Sunday, attended by a Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh, government ministry representatives, and representatives of the banks operating in the area.
A government meeting was held the following day to approve the establishment of the bank. and a recommendation to approve it would be passed up to the President, Mahmoud Abbas, Abu Bakr said.
The matter has caused considerable difficulty for the PA over the last month as it has struggled to find a way to continue paying the salaries while protecting the banks from violating Israeli law.
On May 12, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida reported Shtayyeh as saying "We are searching for solutions that will protect the prisoners’ allowances on the one hand, and protect the banks from the occupation’s threats on the other,” but by May 28 Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Association of Banks, Maher Al-Masri, told Sada News “There is no solution of any kind for the matter of the prisoners’ salaries… The PA is still seeking solutions for this matter in cooperation with the banks and the [PA] Ministry of Finance.”
In a report on their website, PMW noted: "In the struggle between the PA’s insistence on continuing to pay terror rewards to terrorists through the banks that are active in the PA, and the banks’ desire to avoid being involved in committing terror crimes, it appears the PA has the upper hand for now."
In doing so, the PA has left the banks exposed to potential legal proceedings as "cooperation with an act that is defined in law as “a prohibited action with terror assets” is liable to cause the launch of the investigation, arrest, and putting on trial of the various bank managers," PMW noted, adding: "Banks that have branches in the US are liable to be particularly exposed in this context. The PA’s pressure to reward terrorists will not help the banks to escape the situation that has been created."