PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad(Getty)
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Where the Palestinian Authority Budget Goes

Report: 6% of it goes to prisoners and families of suicide bombers

Adam Chandler
September 04, 2012
PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad(Getty)

Some troubling news out of Ramallah, where a report highlights the spending of habits of the Palestinian Authority, which includes tens of millions of shekelim in monthly salaries to Palestinians serving in Israeli jails for security offenses including terrorism.

Every so often, a call comes out for the United States and other governments to help bolster the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority so that it can ostensibly pay civil salaries, alleviate poverty, and help build infrastructure. In theory, this aid is meant to be a confidence-building measure for those operating under the theory that a stable Palestinian economy (despite World Bank fears that it is too heavily reliant on foreign aid) will keep moderates in the West Bank in charge and stem the influence of Hamas.

But according to Channel Two in Israel, nearly 6% of the Palestinian Authority’s budget is going to reward Palestinians convicted of political violence and murder as well as the families of suicide bombers. Some of these salaries have been part of long-standing practice going back to 2003, however according to the report, earlier last year, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad tripled some of the salaries in question.

According to the Channel 2 report, the PA-funded salaries are an equal opportunity benefit; members of Fatah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad all receive them.

Prisoners’ salaries also increase based on how many years they have served. Abdullah Barghouti, a Hamas bomb-maker who was sentenced in 2004 to 67 life terms for orchestrating the killings of 67 Israelis, receives a monthly stipend of NIS 4,000. In less than a year that figure will rise to NIS 6,000 ($1,500).

Another major Hamas terrorist figure, Abbas al-Sayyeed, convicted of planning the 2002 Park Hotel massacre, in which 30 Israeli civilians were killed as they sat down for a Passover meal, is paid NIS 12,000 ($3,000) per month.

Prisoners who have sat more than 30 years in Israeli prison receive NIS 12,000 per month.

For what it’s worth, 2011 study, the average Israeli monthly salary is just over $2,500. By some estimates, monthly salaries for Palestinian civil servants do not exceed $700.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.