Steps to a two state solution: For Israel, for Palestine, for peace
Step Three: Demand an end to the Palestinian Authority’s payment of salaries to convicted terrorists and the payment of rewards to the families of “martyrs”
The Palestinian Authority’s policy of paying “salaries” to those convicted of terrorist offences and to the families of deceased terrorist “martyrs” incentives terror, breaches the terms of the Oslo Accords and sows distrust, violence and fear which weakens support in Israel for a two-state solution. The policy also deprives desperately stretched Palestinian public services of vital investment, and compromises international donors who, while not directly funding the payments, effectively subsidise them by freeing up cash for the PA to spend on them. The amounts of money involved are significant: in 2017, it was revealed that the bill for such payments had exceeded $1bn since 2013. They are also estimated to take up roughly eight percent of the PA’s budget. Moreover, the policy is also clearly intended to encourage the worst acts of violence by making greater payments for longer sentences. The allowances range from $364 a month for a term of up to three years in prison to $3,120 for a term of 30 years. Terrorists from Jerusalem receive a monthly $78 supplement, while Arab-Israeli terrorists receive a $130 supplement. Former prisoners are also guaranteed civil service employment upon their release and additional benefits, including assistance with health insurance payments and university tuition fees.
Despite measures introduced by the US, Israel, Australia and some European countries, such as the Netherlands, the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has resolutely defended the policy – arguing “even if we have only a penny left, we will give it to the martyrs, the prisoners and their families” – and prioritised the payments, even as the salaries of public service workers were slashed in 2019. Coordinated international action to demand the payments are replaced by a needs-based welfare system is essential.