Nabil Shaath
Nabil ShaathReuters

Following Australia's decision to suspend direct funding to the Palestinian Authority (PA) because the PA pays salaries to terrorists and their families, senior PA official Nabil Shaath blasted the country and said that it should be spit on.

Shaath, who serves as PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas' adviser on Foreign Affairs and International Relations, made the comments last week on official PA TV, and they were translated by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW).

"This filthy talk of ‘the criminals’ in connection with our Martyrs and prisoners - while they are our heroes, the heroes of self-sacrifice and the candles of freedom. They cannot be compared to the Israeli criminals in Israel's prisons... Australia's decision [to stop] transferring $10 million angered me greatly... It transferred [the aid to the UN]... so that it would not serve for payment of the salaries of the [prisoners and Martyrs'] families. In other words, the truth is they are worthy of being spat on. You [Australians] are the servants of the U.S.... I don't want your 10 million, I don't want to chase after them," he said.

Shaath’s comments aired on July 3, a day after the Australian government ended direct aid to the PA fears it could be used to support people convicted of political violence.

"I wrote to the Palestinian Authority on May 29, to seek clear assurance that Australian funding is not being used to assist Palestinians convicted of politically-motivated violence," said Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

"I am confident that previous Australian funding to the PA through the World Bank has been used as intended. However, I am concerned that in providing funds for this aspect of the PA's operations there is an opportunity for it to use its own budget to activities that Australia would never support," she added.

Shaath's definition of Palestinian terrorist prisoners as "heroes" and "candles of freedom" exemplifies the PA's policy of honoring terrorists and murderers, as documented in the past by PMW. Shaath's comments are also a result of Israel's passing of the law to deduct terror salaries from PA tax money.

PA officials have played down the new Israeli legislation and have said that payments to terrorists would continue.

Abbas himself, in remarks in Ramallah on Sunday, made clear that the PA will not stop paying families of terrorists imprisoned in Israeli jails.

“We will not allow anyone to interfere with the money that Israel is against us paying to the families of martyrs and prisoners. These are our martyrs, our wounded and our prisoners, and we will continue to pay them. This is something we started in 1965,” he said.