In a revealing interview given to the independent Palestinian news agency Ma’an, Director of PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs Qadri Abu Bakr said that the Palestinian Authority (PA) employs released terrorists to fulfill ostensibly legitimate PA positions, the Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reported Thursday.
During the interview, which was shared on the Facebook page of the PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs on September 7, Abu Bakr told the interviewer that “a prisoner is released from prison and receives a released prisoner’s salary, without working and without doing anything."
According to data shared by Abu Bakr, there are currently somewhere between 7,000-8,000 released prisoners "who are receiving a salary like this” in the PA.
Moreover, Abu Bakr openly shared his support of this mechanism, going as far as telling his interviewer that he "will quit if the allowances are not paid," even as the PA is struggling with financial and medical crises.
Perhaps the most concerning implication from Abu Bakr's interview, according to PMW, is that it appears like the PA will integrate released terrorists into the PA security forces, which are tasked with fighting terrorism. 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 a crime, the penalty for which is up to 10 years imprisonment and a substantial fine. This would apply to the employees of banks that handle PA payments for terrorism, and would leave the banks themselves open to criminal and civil proceedings against them.
According to data published by the Palestinian Finance Ministry service, foreign aid to the PA has dropped by 50% since March, with a total decrease of revenues of about 70% this year.
Besides other factors that may have had an impact on foreign aid to the PA, including the coronavirus pandemic and the peace agreements between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, the dramatic decrease may also be attributed to the PMW exposé of the PA's terror reward payments system. Donna Rachel Edmunds and Sarah Chemla contributed to this report.