White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer noted yesterday that President Trump brought up the issue of salaries to terrorists in his meeting with PA Chairman Abbas:
“The president raised concerns about the payments to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails who have committed acts of terror and to their families and emphasized the need to resolve this issue.” [https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/05/03/press-briefing-press-secretary-sean-spicer-532017-44]
As international pressure is mounting on Mahmoud Abbas to stop payments to terrorists prisoners, it should be recognized that Mahmoud Abbas himself is personally responsible for the high salaries that terrorists receive. In 2010, Mahmoud Abbas amended the Palestinian Prisoners Law, dramatically raising salaries to terrorist prisoners. Prior to that, salaries ranged from 1000-4000 shekels a month; now they start at 1400 shekels and can reach as high as 12,000 shekels each month.
In 2014, the PA transferred responsibility for payments to prisoners from the PA to the PLO in order to hide the PA responsibility for payments from the international community. At the time, Deputy Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs Ziyad Abu Ein again stressed that Abbas himself was personally responsible for the sharp rise in salaries to prisoners:
Deputy Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs Ziyad Abu Ein: “Who else has elevated the cause of the Palestinian prisoners other than President Mahmoud Abbas? All the laws, the tenfold increase of the budget of the Ministry of Prisoners’ [Affairs] – [all this] was done during the tenure of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and according to the wishes of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas…
If we go back to the source, which is the PLO, which will take care of the [prisoner] issue… we eliminate the international pressure and the attempts to tamper with this issue, so sensitive and holy to our Palestinian people. The [Palestinian] leadership wants to keep this holy issue away from the influence of the donor countries, the interference of the donor countries, and the occasional negative influence of the donor countries, by giving it [the prisoner issue] its holiness and assigning it to the leadership of the struggle of our Palestinian people. Who is the leadership of the struggle of our Palestinian people? The PLO… All the authority, all the laws, the budget, the officials and staff will be a part of the Prisoners and Released Prisoners’ Commission, which will belong to the PLO, to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and to the Executive Committee of the PLO.
[Official PA TV, June 1, 2014]
Not only is Abbas personally responsible for paying salaries to terrorists, by his own admission he is responsible for sending terrorists to kill Israelis. Abbas told official PA TV in 2005, right after the PA’s five-year terror campaign (i.e., the second Intifada) had ended, that all the terrorist prisoners must be freed because they did not murder of their own volition but were sent to murder by the PA:
Mahmoud Abbas: “I demand [the release of] prisoners because they are human beings, who did what we, we, ordered them to do. We – the [Palestinian] Authority. They should not be punished while we sit at one table negotiating… This is war. One (i.e., Israel) ordered a soldier to kill, and I ordered my son, brother, or others, to carry out the duty of resistance (i.e., PA euphemism for terror). This person killed and the other person killed… He [the Palestinian prisoner] is a fighter just like any other fighter. We were in a state of fighting. When a truce is reached, in any country in the world, the past is forgotten… [If prisoners are not released] the ordinary citizen will ask me: ‘What did you get me? You ordered me – you are responsible for me.’”[Official PA TV, Feb. 14, 2005]
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Abbas indicates that, as the person who “ordered” the terrorists to kill, he is just as responsible as the killers in prison. Because of his direct responsibility for sending the terrorists, it is unlikely that Abbas will agree to stop rewarding them financially.