Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is facing sizeable pressure to quit the payouts to families of prisoners jailed in Israel — some of whom have been imprisoned for terror attacks.
But civil rights activists for the Palestinians say stopping the payments would be unfair.
“To lay a finger on the prisoners’ rights is to attack the Palestinian struggle,” said Helmi al-Aaraj, director general of the Center for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights, in the Times of Israel.
Currently, Israel is holding about 6,500 Palestinians for crimes, including acts of deadly terrorism. And not only Israel, but also President Donald Trump, would like to see the payments for prisoner families halted because of the potential for the money to be used to further attacks against the Jewish state and the West.
But Abbas, among other Palestinians, say the money is necessary because the families have lost their main breadwinners.
From the Times of Israel:
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is caught between pressure from US President Donald Trump’s administration and a potential backlash from Palestinians, most of whom view their prisoners as heroes.
Those killed carrying out attacks against Israelis are regularly venerated as “martyrs.”
Palestinian officials say some 850,000 people have spent time in Israeli prisons in the 50 years since Israel gained control of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Six-Day War. Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and the Hamas terror group seized control of the coastal enclave in a bloody coup against Abbas’s Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority.
Israel currently detains some 6,500 Palestinians for a range of offenses, including a number of deadly terror attacks.
It says making payments to the families of attackers encourages further violence, accusing the Palestinian leadership of incitement amid a wave of attacks that began in 2015 and has persisted at a low simmer since. …
A recent poll showed that 91 percent of Palestinians oppose suspending stipends to those in Israeli jails for security-related offenses. …
Since 2004, Palestinian law has stipulated that the government pay allowances to families of those jailed for terror attacks and activities against Israel and Israelis.
The legislation obliges the Palestinian authorities to ensure “a dignified life” to inmates and ex-prisoners by “guaranteeing their economic rights and those of their families.”
“If their rights are eroded we are heading for a real crisis in Palestinian society and in due course toward an explosion,” Shawan Jabarin of Palestinian rights group Al-Haq told AFP.
The Palestinian Authority has until now made regular payments to prisoners’ families based on the length of their sentence.
They range from $400 per month for relatives of prisoners incarcerated for up to three years, rising to $2,200 for family members of those sentenced to 18-20 years.
Palestinian sources involved with prisoner affairs told AFP on condition of anonymity that the PA had suspended payments to families of 277 prisoners and ex-prisoners at the beginning of June. No Palestinian official has so far commented and the PA’s silence is encouraging speculation.
“There is US and Israeli pressure to stop paying stipends to prisoners and their families,” Aaraj said.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in June told US lawmakers that Abbas had agreed to stop payments to attackers.
“They have changed their policy, at least I have been informed they’ve changed that policy,” Tillerson said.
Israel however said it saw no evidence of such a decision and Palestinian officials would not confirm it.
After a Palestinian assailant fatally stabbed an Israeli border guard Hadas Malka in June, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on world leaders to “demand the immediate cessation of Palestinian Authority payments to the families of terrorists.”
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has labeled the Palestinian National Fund, which provides assistance to prisoners, a terrorist organization.
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