A shocking report on Wednesday reveals that the Palestinian Authority (PA) has fooled Western governments, raking in over a billion dollars in aid from them annually despite breaching their demands that it stop paying salaries to terrorist prisoners.
The report by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), which can be read in full here, exposes how the PA has coped since August 2014, when - in the face of demands by the US and European donor countries that it stop paying salaries to jailed terrorists - it announced it would stop the terror funding.
At the time, the PA claimed that it would not pay the jailed terrorists their salaries and instead the payment would be made by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the body behind the PA that had its terror status removed in the 1994 Oslo Accords when the PA was created.
PMW back in 2014 warned that the PA's announcement was a "ploy" meant to keep the aid keep pumping in to the tune of a billion dollars a year. But nevertheless, the US and EU member states took the PA at its word and kept forking over donations.
In its new report on Wednesday, PMW cited numerous official PA sources as well as statements by officials in the organization, which clearly show the PA is tricking the West.
The sources cited all testify that the PA Ministry of Finance continues to be the body making decisions for funding, and continues to be the source paying salaries to the jailed terrorists.
PLO may be paying, but money is still from the PA
Brought forward in the report are records of the PA Ministry of Finance, showing monetary transfers from the PA to the PLO from 2012 to 2015.
In 2015, following the PA's promise that it was no longer paying terror salaries and after it closed its Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs, it suddenly made a transfer more than double the amount it had moved over to the PLO in previous years, jumping from 294 million shekels (around $78 million) in 2014 to 775 million shekels (over $206 million) in 2015.
The extra 481 million shekels ($128 million) in the 2015 transfer was a sum nearly identical to the 442 million shekel (over $117 million) budget previously allocated to the Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs before it was closed.
That extra funding therefore exactly matched the amount of money the PLO would need to pay terrorist prisoners - indicating the source of the salaries is still the PA funds propped up by Western aid.
In fact, the difference between the extra 481 million shekels to the PLO in 2015 and the 442 million shekels to the Minister of Prisoners' Affairs the year before works out to a roughly 10% yearly rise seen in the funding.
Same except in name
Tellingly, the PLO Commission of Prisoners' Affairs that was formed when the PA Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs was closed is identical to its predecessor according to the report.
The Commission and the salaries of the terrorist prisoners remain under the "supervision" of the "Palestinian presidency," in other words PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. What's more, the PA Minister of Prisoners' Affairs became the director of the new PLO Commission.
Official PA sources were quoted in the report openly revealing that the PA Ministry of Finance continues to be the body responsible for paying terrorist prisoners their salaries.
In one case when the PA was short on funds, it made an announcement that it had cut the salaries of terrorist prisoners, as well as civil servants, by 60%.
Summarizing its report, PMW concluded by noting that "since it continues to fund salaries to terrorists, thereby clearly violating its promise to donors, the PA should be ineligible to receive Western donor money."
"However, through this deception the PA is still reaping over a billion dollars in foreign aid."