Over the last decade, foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority has plummeted by more than 90%. According to financial reports published by the PA, in the first 10 months of 2011, the PA had already received 2.605 billion shekels in international aid. By the end of October 2017, the aid had dropped by almost 50% to 1.335 billion shekels. As of the end of October 2021, foreign aid to the PA had dropped to just 224 million shekels, half of which was received during the month of October itself.
What happened in 2011 that caused this plunge in financial support for the Palestinian Authority?
As the steadily rising foreign aid to the PA reached its peak in 2011, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas took advantage of the surplus in foreign revenue in the PA coffers to give a huge salary hike to the Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons, raising the salaries by hundreds of percent. Proud of his achievement, Abbas’ official PA media provided extensive details of the soaring terrorist salaries, which reached as high as 12,000 shekels a month, more than three times the average Palestinian salary.
Palestinian Media Watch immediately recognized this as PA abuse of donor funding and released a series of reports to the international community, first in the US Congress and then in European parliaments, exposing the full scope of what would later be known as the PA’s “Pay-for-Slay” policy. The PA terror rewards include high salaries to terrorist prisoners, guaranteed lifetime salaries and positions in the PA for released terrorists, and monthly lifetime allowances to the families of dead terrorists and to wounded terrorists. Hundreds of millions of dollars were flowing each year, from the donor countries to the PA and from the PA to terrorists, to incentivize and reward terror.
The international donors were livid. PMW’s documentation showed them that the taxes paid by their citizens and given to the PA in foreign aid were being misappropriated by the PA to reward terror. Donor countries condemned the PA and demanded that it cancel its salary rewards to terrorists, and when the PA refused, donors one by one started to scale back their aid to the PA, while some decided to cut all aid completely. In 2015, the US administration of president Barack Obama passed legislation cutting US aid to the PA by the amount the PA rewarded convicted terrorists.
The years 2017-2018 were a threshold. In the US, the Taylor Force Act (TFA) raised the stakes, conditioning the vast majority of US aid to the PA on abolishing the PA’s terror reward payments. Following the US, the Netherlands and Australia cut off all funding to the PA. In parallel, the Israeli parliament passed legislation deducting the amount the PA paid to terrorists from the taxes Israel collects and gives to the PA.
As a result of TFA, the PA has lost over $600 million of potential aid from the US alone. Information recently provided to PMW by the Finance Ministry shows that the implementation of the Israeli law has so far cost the Palestinians over 1.4 billion shekels.
Now imagine if the PA would stop incentivizing terror by rewarding terrorists: the PA and the Palestinian economy would enjoy a four-fold windfall. First, the PA would save the estimated 700 million to a billion shekels it pays annually to terrorists and their families. Next, the US, the Netherlands, Australia and others who cut funding would be able to renew their aid to the PA, bringing in hundreds of millions of additional dollars. Israel could stop implementing its law, thereby inflating the PA coffers by another 600 million shekels annually. Finally, if the PA also stopped promoting terror, in the absence of constant violence, investment activity in the PA could potentially boom.
With the additional income, the PA could build new hospitals and provide better care for the Palestinian needy, reform its school curricula by removing the hatred of Israel and the terror promotion, to name just a few worthy causes.
Sadly, the PA and Abbas have repeatedly shown that they are not interested in peace or prosperity for the Palestinians. They prefer to stick to the path of aspiring to destroy Israel and rewarding terror. As Abbas has repeated, even if the PA is left with “just one penny,” it will be paid to the terrorists.
Just imagine: if the PA would stop paying salaries to terrorists and promoting terror, it could morph from a terror-supporting, aid-dependent pariah into a healthy, peace-promoting, wealthy hub of development. Instead of begging the world to donate money so it could have resources to reward terrorists, the PA could be on the way to growth and prosperity for its people. Instead of the PA pleading for aid from the EU, the PA could be the one buying vaccines for the EU countries collapsing under the strain of the corona Omicron variant. Just imagine.
Itamar Marcus is director of Palestinian Media Watch. His book Deception, co-authored with Nan Jacques Zilberdik, was acclaimed by Robert Bernstein, the founder of Human Rights Watch, as “one of the most important books you may handle in your lives.” He was recognized as being among the world’s “top 100 people positively influencing Jewish life or the State of Israel,” by The Algemeiner.
IDF Lt. Col. (res.) Maurice Hirsch is the director of legal strategies for Palestinian Media Watch. He served for 19 years in the IDF Military Advocate General Corps. In his last position, he served as director of the Military Prosecution in Judea and Samaria.