Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas Reuters

In the midst of the self-imposed financial crisis, Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has found a spare 40,000 shekels ($11,239/€10,005) to provide a prosthesis for triple murderer Muhammad Brash, who shot and killed 3 Israelis.

Announcing Abbas' decision, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Commission of Prisoners' Affairs added that it shows the "priorities" of the PA leadership:

"The [PLO] Commission of Prisoners' Affairs announced... that the Honorable [PA] President of the State of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas ordered to cover the full cost of preparing a prosthesis for sick prisoner Muhammad Brash... at the expense of the [PA] Presidential Office," Donia Al-Watan reported.

"The commission said that this step emphasizes that the prisoners' cause is the Palestinian leadership's top priority, and that the efforts will continue until the release of all of the prisoners from the occupation's prisons."

In a similar gesture, Abbas decided to provide a special "presidential grant" to fund the cost of an electric wheelchair for the mother of terrorist Mahmoud Abu Kharabish who murdered five people, including a mother and her three children, when he threw a Molotov cocktail at a civilian bus.

"[District] Governor of Jericho and the Jordan Valley Jihad Abu Al-Asal and the head of humanitarian aid in the [PA] Presidential Office Raeda Al-Fares awarded a presidential grant in the form of an electric wheel chair to the mother of prisoner Mahmoud Abu Kharabish," Al-Hayat Al-Jadida reported.

While these can be viewed as humanitarian gestures, it is clear that Abbas is not buying expensive prostheses or electric wheelchairs for every needy PA Arab. In fact this is the first time Palestinian Media Watch has seen these kinds of announcements by the PA. Also significant is that both of the PA announcements stressed that these were not ordinary Palestinian recipients who had been chosen for these special grants but it was specifically because one recipient was a "prisoner," who had murdered three Israelis and the second recipient is the "mother of a prisoner" i.e., the mother of a terrorist murderer.

The financial crisis the PA is facing is a direct result of its longstanding practice to incentivize and reward Palestinian terrorism - also known as the PA's "Pay to Slay" policy.

In 2018, Israel adopted its "Pay to Slay" law. The law provided that the expenditure of the PA on salaries to terrorists in any given year would be deducted from the taxes Israel collects and transfers to the PA in the following year. In the aftermath of the brutal rape and murder of Israeli Ori Ansbacher by a Palestinian terrorist, the Israeli government implemented the law and decided to deduct the sum of 502 million shekels - the sum the PA openly admitted to be spending on salaries to terrorist prisoners and released terrorist prisoners - from the tax revenues. The deduction, according to the law, is made in 12 monthly parts.

In response, the PA decided that if Israel deducts any sum from the tax revenues, it will reject all of the tax money. Putting this decision into perspective, and based on the 2018 statistics, it means that the PA is rejecting over 8 billion shekels (2.25 billion dollars/2 billion euros) annually, just to continue its "Pay to Slay" policy. In doing so, the PA intentionally plunged itself into financial crisis.

In the context of an international donor event organized by the European Union (EU), PA leader Muhammad Shtayyeh explained why the PA pays monthly salaries to terrorist prisoners, completely ignoring their murderous actions:

"Our prisoners are in the prisons for the homeland's freedom. Our prisoners are in the prisons because they are cases of fighting, and not cases of terror as Israel claims. In general, we - as [PA] President [Mahmoud Abbas] has said more than once: 'If we are down to the last penny, it will be designated for the prisoners and the families of the Martyrs, who have sacrificed their blood for Palestine,'" official PA TV's Topic of the Day quoted Shtayyeh as saying.

In a more honest confession, the PA admitted that it pays the salaries of the terrorists because it sees them as its "soldiers" who were "sent" by it to carry out the acts of terrorism.

While the EU, at that same donor conference, touted the rhetoric that it does "not support the system of Palestinian payments to 'prisoners and martyrs," shortly after the conference the EU nevertheless showed its willingness to facilitate the continuation of these salaries, announcing that it would provide 15 million to the PA to help it pay salaries to public employees - thereby freeing up money for terrorist rewards

Interestingly, WAFA reported that Shtayyeh is now trying to enlist the assistance of the World Bank "to have a greater role in monitoring Israel's deductions from the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian government." The site quoted Shtayyeh's words during a meeting with a representative of the bank:

"Israel wants to destroy and exhaust the Palestinian economy, through the deduction of the tax money... (the original Arabic version also included the following words: "... manipulations of and stealing from the amounts of money going to the PA" -Ed.) and by trying to pull the banking institutions operating in Palestine into a legal war leading to their liquidation and closure."

The World Bank is already familiar with the PA's "Pay to Slay" program. Already in 2007, the bank called the salary payments to the terrorist prisoners and released prisoners "the most generous PA program." It added that the funds devoted to the PA's payments to the families of dead terrorists - the so-called "martyrs" - do "not seem justified from a welfare or fiscal perspective." In the World Bank report. No. 38207, the bank concluded:

"Together with the Fund for Martyrs and the Injured, the programs for detainees and ex-detainees are clearly areas for considering future rationalization and streamlining of services. These two programs alone absorbed more than 1 percent of GDP in 2004, and may have accounted for as much as 1.3 percent in 2005. Yet collectively they provide benefits to fewer than 20,000 families. Certainly from efficiency and fiscal considerations, if not equity considerations, some of these resources could be better targeted."

Since the publication of the 2007 report, the PA expenditure on its "Pay to Slay" policy has only gone up. The salaries of the terrorist prisoners and released terrorist prisoners were hiked by PA Chairman Abbas in 2010, while the payments to the families of the dead terrorists were raised 3 times.