Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas STR/Flash 90

The Palestinian Authority has finally publicized its monthly financial expenditures for the first 5 months of 2019. They show that the PA has paid no less than 234,172,000 shekels (over $65 million), or, on average, 46,834,400 shekels/month in salaries to terrorist prisoners (including released prisoners) in spite of its self-imposed financial crisis.

Based on this monthly average, the PA expenditure on the "Pay-for-Slay" salaries to terrorist prisoners in 2019 should reach 562 million shekels, as compared to 502 million shekels in 2018. This amounts to 60 million shekels or a 11.8% rise in PA salaries to terrorist prisoners in 2019.

Since 2014, the PA Ministry of Finance had been publishing an annual anticipated budget in the first part of the year as well as monthly reports of actual expenditures in each budget category. Based on the monthly budgetary updates, Palestinian Media Watch exposed that the PA expenditure in 2018 on salaries to terrorist prisoners and released terrorist prisoners was no less than 502 million shekels.

Immediately after the Israeli cabinet implemented Israel's Anti "Pay for Slay" Law and started deducting from the 2019 tax income the amount PMW had shown that the PA spent in 2018 on salaries to the terrorist prisoners, the PA decided to disregard its donor countries' demand of full financial transparency and hid all its budgetary data. In place of the monthly budget expenditure updates, the website of the PA Ministry of Finance carried a notice saying "Due to the contingency law and legal dependencies with the Israeli side, the financial reports were temporarily suspended." This note appeared for almost three months.

Now, less than a month after PMW exposed the fact that the PA was hiding its finances, the PA Ministry of Finance has restored what appears to be most of the current budgetary information that its website used to contain. But strikingly, the PA's annual budgets for the years 2014 - 2018 have been removed and the PA budget for 2019 has not been published.

The budget updates from the first five months of 2019 show that the PA is indeed implementing its declared priorities - to use their available funds, first and foremost, to pay the salaries to terrorist prisoners and to dead terrorists, the so-called "Martyrs." PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and PA officials have reiterated this numerous times.

In March this year, Abbas again emphasized - to "the entire world" - the PA's priorities:

"[Israel] has recently begun to deduct a large part of our money that it collects... which is known as the tax deduction money that amounts to $200 million a month, on the pretext that we are paying salaries to the families of the prisoners, Martyrs, and wounded... We have said and will say to Israel and the entire world that we will not abandon our people, and particularly [not] those among them who have sacrificed," Abbas said on official PA TV. "We will continue to support them even if these will be the last financial resources that we have."