By Columnist Jim Kouri
The recently released Palestinian prisoners, many of whom committed acts of terrorism or aided and abetted terrorists in their attacks, are allegedly being paid salaries with money that is provided by the United States government in its foreign aid package to the Palestinian National Authority, according to Fox News on Friday.
In March, the Obama administration announced it was unblocking almost $500 million in aid to the Palestinian National Authority.
More than 5,000 Palestinian convicts were released by the Israeli government in August as an enticement for continuing peace negotiations between the Israeli government and the PNA, according to Palestinian Media Watch, based in Israel.
The Palestinian National Authority Registry had promulgated the government resolution that rewards Palestinian felons imprisoned in Israel for security and terror-related offenses a monthly salary from the PNA. The resolution merely announced what the leaders of the PNA have been doing since 2010.
The PNA defined which Palestinians would be considered “prisoners”: “Anyone imprisoned in the occupation’s [Israel’s] prisons as a result of his participation in the struggle against the occupation” (Chapter 1 of Law of Prisoners, 2004/19), according to PalWatch.
According to the PNA, more than 4,500 Palestinian prisoners (as of December 2012) serving time for terror-related offenses are recipients of PNA salaries. This means that Palestinians convicted of crimes such as theft do not receive a salary, but Hamas and Fatah terrorists including murderers are rewarded with what amounts to “no-show” jobs for which they are paid monthly wages.
These monthly payments to prisoners are paid from the PNA’s general budget and income taxes are paid, as is the case with all other PNA salaries, according to officials in Israel.
According to the language of the PNA regulation as well as PNA economic reports on government salaries, the monthly salaries to prisoners range from 2,400 shekels ($658.00 US) to 12,000 shekels ($3,300.00 US).
“American tax dollars are being funneled to terrorists by an already corrupted State Department, and yet no one blows the whistle, including the so-called mainstream news organizations,” said political strategist and attorney Mike Baker.
“U.S. federal law prohibits American aid money being distributed as salaries to known terrorists, so the Palestinian government calls money given to Hamas terrorists social service payments and U.S. officials wink at the scam,” Baker notes.
The PNA’s general and salary budgets are funded by foreign aid from a number of nations. The U.S. gives more than $140 million per year in aid. International donors’ aid money given for salaries and to the PNA general budget pays the salaries of Palestinian terrorists imprisoned in Israel. This is a violation of the letter or spirit of the laws of the funding countries, according to the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank and public-interest organization.
Although the U.S. funnels about $400 million per year in aid to the PNA, none of the money, by law, is supposed to go to terrorists or former terrorists. Critics say there is no way to separate money from U.S. taxpayers and the funds which go to the former prisoners, according to the Heritage Foundation’s Middle East expert, James Phillips.