PA must halt pay-for-slay policy for ‘peace and prosperity’ - analysis

“The antithesis of peace is taking money to reward terrorists for being terrorists... You cannot have a state that rewards terrorism – this is contradictory to the whole world order.” – PMW official.

A WOMAN holds a picture of PA President Mahmoud Abbas during a rally earlier this month in Gaza City marking the 55th anniversary of Fatah’s founding.  (photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)
A WOMAN holds a picture of PA President Mahmoud Abbas during a rally earlier this month in Gaza City marking the 55th anniversary of Fatah’s founding.
Palestinian incentivization and the rewarding of terrorists would come to a halt if the “Deal of the Century” is implemented.
The “Peace for Prosperity” plan mentions the need for the Palestinian Authority to cease its “pay-for-slay” terrorism-funding program in four different instances – as much as or even more than the plan refers to Israeli sovereignty over Area C settlements or security.
“This is obviously a major obstacle to peace,” said Maurice Hirsch, director of legal strategies for the Israeli watchdog Palestinian Media Watch (PMW). “The antithesis of peace is taking money to reward terrorists for being terrorists. Terrorism undermines peace. You cannot have a state that rewards terrorism – this is something contradictory to the whole world order.”
On pages 4, 34, 43 and 51 of the 181-page peace plan, the Trump administration makes clear that the PA’s law “incentivizes terrorism… Billions of dollars have been squandered and investment is unable to flow into these areas to allow the Palestinians to thrive.
“The Palestinians shall have ended all programs… that serve to incite or promote hatred and antagonism toward its neighbors, or which compensate or incentivize criminal or violent activity,” the document says.
The plan calls on the PA to take necessary actions to immediately terminate the paying of salaries to terrorists serving in Israeli prisons – as well as to the families of deceased terrorists – and to instead develop humanitarian and welfare programs to provide essential services and support to Palestinians in need that are not based upon the committing of terrorist acts.
The so-called “Deal of the Century” was unveiled at the White House on January 29, around the same time that the PA revealed its 2019 financial reports. On January 30, PMW revealed that the PA admitted to spending no less than NIS 517.4 million on salaries to terrorist prisoners and released prisoners in 2019, representing an increase of NIS 15.4m. from 2018.
In addition, PMW was able to show that the PA increased payments to wounded terrorists and the families of dead terrorists in 2019 by NIS 1.6m. to more than NIS 150m.
The PA implemented its pay-for-slay policy in 1994 and since then has paid millions of shekels every year in financial rewards to terrorists. In 2018, Israel passed a law to combat the policy, which allows the country to deduct from both the taxes that Israel collects and transfers to the PA the amount it expended on terrorist salaries.
Israel implemented this law for the first time in February 2019.
The pay-for-slay policy has also been widely condemned by the United States, Canada, Australia and Holland, all of which cut off direct aid to the PA until it agreed to halt the policy.
Among the most vocal opposition to pay-for-slay was one of the original orchestrators of the Trump administration’s peace plan, former US special envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt. Perhaps this is the reason that language calling for cessation of terrorist payments is featured so prominently in the plan.
Last March, and again in October, Greenblatt slammed the PA for its pay-for-slay policy at the United Nations. In a March UN Security Council meeting, he defended Israel’s decision to withhold Palestinian taxes. In October at the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee meeting, which meets on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, he urged donor countries to stop funding the PA and Hamas until they stopped “squandering the opportunities that donor money provides for a better future for all Palestinians.”
Greenblatt also regularly tweeted against the PA’s policy.
Also in March, in the aftermath of a terrorist attack near the West Bank town of Ariel that murdered one Israeli and wounded another, Greenblatt wrote on Twitter that “no doubt the Palestinian Authority will reward the terrorist under its pay-for-slay policy.”
And in May, when Israel’s Channel 13 reporter Barak Ravid asked Greenblatt on Twitter: “Why did the US stop funding Palestinian hospitals in east Jerusalem, which are the only place in Palestine that can give treatments to cancer patients?” Greenblatt responded: “The PA could easily pay its own bills to the hospital by ending incentive payments to terrorists/their families & use the $ to care for their ppl.”
PMW’s Hirsch said: “The PA continues to request and receive considerable amounts of foreign aid and carries on squandering hundreds of millions of shekels/dollars/euros on terrorist salaries every year, incentivizing and rewarding Palestinian terrorists” – and this is why the “Deal of the Century” seeks to end the pay-for-slay policy as a condition for not only receiving future aid but also for being able to establish a Palestinian state.
“To ensure a successful Palestinian state, we are asking the Palestinians to meet the challenges of peaceful coexistence,” US President Donald Trump said at the peace plan’s unveiling. “This includes adopting basic laws enshrining human rights; protecting against financial and political corruption; stopping the malign activities of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other enemies of peace; ending the incitement of hatred against Israel – so important – and permanently halting the financial compensation to terrorists.”
While Trump’s peace plan has sparked both support and opposition from leaders around the world, Hirsch said one thing everyone should be able to agree upon is that the PA practice of paying terrorists is “despicable” and “unfathomable.”
He commended Trump for including the end of the PA’s pay-for-slay policy as a condition for peace, but said we don’t need the full implementation of the plan before working to ensure that it stops. Rather, he said, “the EU and more countries must make their aid conditional on the permanent abolishment of the policy.”