Despite their claims to have stopped officially encouraging and supporting the armed struggle against Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the Fatah movement persist in such activity. This is manifested in continued payments to the families of terrorists who have been killed and to imprisoned and released terrorists, even at the cost of salary cuts for P.A. employees, and in declarations by P.A. and Fatah officials that the payments will not stop under any circumstances.

The P.A. and Fatah also continue providing moral support to prisoners, released prisoners and the families of martyrs by meeting with them, holding events in their honor and making statements that praise and glorify their actions. Fatah’s official Facebook page, as well as pages associated with the movement, continue to post messages and images praising armed activity against Israel, and calling to continue it.

This report presents examples from the recent months of the Palestinian Authority and Fatah’s ongoing official support of the armed struggle.

‘We are committed to continuing payments to prisoners and families’

P.A. officials, headed by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, repeatedly stress their commitment to maintaining the payments to the prisoners and the martyrs’ families at the current level, even at the cost of cutting other expenditures. On Feb. 20, 2019, Abbas declared that he would refuse to receive the tax funds that Israel collects on the P.A.’s behalf if Israel deducted the sums paid to Palestinian attackers and their families. He added that any sum the P.A. would manage to collect would be allocated first of all to the prisoners and the martyrs’ families, and only later to other needs, because “the martyrs, the prisoners and the wounded are the noblest and most honorable” of all Palestinians.

In December, Fatah Central Committee secretary Jibril Rajoub said that “Fatah, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, regards the issue of the prisoners, their release and the care [extended to] them and their families as a national responsibility and a sacred duty that is not subject to negotiation and cannot be relinquished. … The mighty prisoner movement will continue to be the spearhead of the Palestinian national struggle, as it has always been … ”

Fatah Spokesman Osama Al-Qawasmeh said in a similar vein: “The prisoners are a candle lighting our way, our crowning glory, and emblem of our courage and honor. … Even if we had [only] a single dollar [left], we would pay it to the families of the martyrs and prisoners.”

Qadri Abu Bakr, head of the Commission for Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs, likewise stressed that “the position of the Palestinian leadership is open and clear to the entire world: We will not abandon the families of these fighters, and this is not a matter for bargaining or blackmail. We oppose defining the fighters—the prisoners, martyrs and wounded—as terrorists and criminals.”

In early March, after Israel announced it had deducted from the tax revenues it transfers to the P.A. the sum paid to the prisoners and the martyrs’ families, Palestinian Finance Minister Shukri Bishara announced that the P.A. was putting an emergency budget in place, as part of which government employees would receive only half their pay, but promised that the payments to prisoners and martyrs’ families would not be cut. P.A. Civil Affairs Minister and Fatah Central Committee member Hussein Al-Sheikh tweeted that, according to Abbas’s instructions, this issue would always be a top priority.

The P.A. and Fatah continue meeting with released prisoners and their families and holding events in honor of prisoners, released prisoners and martyrs. It should be noted that, in the case of martyrs, the P.A. and Fatah often convey a conflicting message: on the one hand presenting them as innocent civilians that were executed by Israel in cold blood for no reason, and on the other hand celebrating them as heroes who courageously risked their lives in resisting the occupation.

On Nov. 18, 2018, Abbas met in his office in Ramallah with the mother and brother of Karim Younis, who is serving a 40-year prison sentence in Israel and was elected in 2017 to Fatah’s Central Committee. Younis, honored as “the eldest of the prisoners,” was convicted along with his cousin Maher of abducting and murdering an Israeli soldier in 1980. In the meeting, Abbas reiterated that the issue of the prisoners is a top priority for the Palestinian leadership, which is working diligently vis-à-vis the international community to secure their release from the prisons of the Israeli occupation so they can take part in building the independent Palestinian state.

It should be noted that this is not the first time Abbas has honored terrorists convicted of murdering Israelis, and also not the first time the P.A. and Fatah have honored Karim and Maher Younis, specifically.

Read full report at MEMRI.