The Palestinian Authority plans to switch its source of funding to convicted killers of Israelis and Americans.
The PA has drafted plans to transfer a ministry to the Palestine Liberation Organization. The plans called for the Prisoner Affairs Ministry to leave PA auspices amid criticism of funding to Palestinian insurgents, including those responsible for mass-casualty attacks.
“This would be a change of name and nothing more, which would in no way affect the roles and duties that the ministry fulfilled,” the official PA daily Al Ayam reported.
In a report on June 1, Al Ayam quoted PA sources as saying that the transfer of the ministry to the PLO was meant to assuage the European Union and the United States. Both have questioned direct PA funding of insurgents in Israeli prisons, including those convicted of killing Americans and Israelis.
“The new situation would make possible the provision of new resources to support prisoners’ issues, without allowing forces of the U.S. Congress or some European parliaments to attempt to blackmail the PA or to take steps against it,” Al Ayam said.
In April 2014, Congress questioned PA funding to insurgents jailed in Israel. During a House subcommittee hearing on April 29, a senior State Department official acknowledged the funding, but said the administration of President Barack Obama would not act. ? ? “I would be hard pressed to say which of the programs for the PA we should cut,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Anne Patterson, a former ambassador to Egypt, said. “I would be very hard pressed to say that.”
For its part, the PA has termed the funds to the insurgents as “salaries.” Al Ayam said the transfer of authority from the PA to the PLO would help jailed Palestinian insurgents while ” meeting their demands and defending their rights more efficiently and flexibly.”
An Israeli-based monitoring group, Palestinian Media Watch, said PA salaries to insurgents amounted to $103 million in 2014 and was expected to reach $130 million in 2014. The group has relayed the figures to Congress.
“Apparently, this new authority will be set up shortly and the prisoners will continue to receive the same financial salaries and other benefits,” PMW said on June 3.
Senior PA officials said chairman Mahmoud Abbas has increased funding to the Palestinian insurgents. PA Deputy Prisoners Affairs Minister Ziyad Abu Ein said Abbas would remain in charge of the allocation.
“The [Palestinian] leadership wants to keep this holy issue away from the influence of the donor countries, the interference of the donor countries, and the occasional negative influence of the donor countries, by giving it [the prisoner issue] its holiness and assigning it to the leadership of the struggle of our Palestinian people,” Abu Ein told PA television on June 1.