(March 25, 2019 / Palestinian Media Watch) Proving conclusively that the Palestinian Authority is willing to punish hard-working employees in order to continue to reward terrorists, P.A. Minister of Finance Shukri Bishara has reiterated that while the it will cut the salaries of most of its employees, it will pay in full the salaries to the imprisoned terrorists and released terrorists, as well as the allowances to wounded terrorists and the families of dead terrorists. At a televised press conference, the minister emphasized that rewarding terrorists and murderers is “a principle which no force on earth can make the P.A. deviate from.”
Shukri Bishara said “the salaries [of public employees] will be paid in full, all of the salaries under 2,000 shekels. … In practice, 40 percent of the P.A.’s employees, who are the dynamo engine of the economy, will receive their salaries in full, at 100 percent, because nearly 40 percent of the P.A.’s employees receive less than 2,000 [shekels]. … Today, we will pay no less than 50 percent of the salaries. … We have placed an upper limit of 10,000 shekels for the top of the pay scale of those receiving a maximum of 10,000 shekels—the honored ministers and their like. The burden of sacrifice and the burden of compromise falls on the top salaries. … At the beginning of the month [March 2019] … the salaries were transferred in full to the prisoners, the wounded and the martyrs according to the orders of His Honor [P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas]. This is one of the national principles which no force on earth can make us deviate from.” [Official P.A. TV, March 10, 2019]
Explaining the decision, P.A. Deputy Prime Minister and Fatah Commissioner of Information Nabil Abu Rudeina said that making law-abiding public employees take a pay cut is “less significant” than for it to consider lowering the rewards of terrorists:
“The salaries of the families of the martyrs and the prisoners will be paid regardless of the cost, and that it is not possible to abandon or treat lightly the livelihood of the Palestinian people’s heroes … non-payment of the public employees’ salaries is less significant than subtracting one penny from the family of a martyr or prisoner, who sacrificed his life and freedom for Palestine and its heroic people, such as heroic Karim Younes (i.e., terrorist, murdered one together with an accomplice), who until now has served 37 years in the occupation’s prisons.” [Official P.A. daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 8, 2019]
Abu Rudeina later added:
“The salaries of the families of the martyrs (shahids) and the prisoners are a taboo that must not be touched. We are prepared to sacrifice our salaries, and we will not touch a single penny of the salaries of our martyrs and our wounded and prisoner heroes.”
[Official P.A. daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 11, 2019]
The decision to penalize its law-abiding employees in favor of continuing to pay the full salaries of the terrorist prisoners, released terrorist prisoners, the wounded terrorists and the families of the dead terrorists, is not surprising considering how highly these terrorists are regarded by both the Palestinian Authority and Abbas’s Fatah party.
As Fatah Revolutionary Council member and official Fatah Spokesman Osama Al-Qawasmi explained, in the eyes of Fatah the terrorists are “heroic” and “brave,” and together with the dead terrorists (the so-called “martyrs”) and their families “will remain the diamond in the crown” of the Palestinians.
“All of the blessings to our heroic prisoners behind the occupation’s bars, who have made the sacrifice of their freedom and their separation from their children, their wives, and their homes. … Israel wants us to punish our brave prisoners and our Martyrs for their legitimate struggle for freedom and independence. … The prisoners, the martyrs and their families will remain the diamond in the crown … and the headline of our honor. This lion [Abbas] … is emphasizing once again … that the promise is a promise—a promise to the martyrs. … We are saying it on behalf of the Fatah Movement—if a single dollar is left in our hands, we will pay it to the families of the Martyrs and to the prisoners. … Our martyrs are heroes and our prisoners are heroes.” [Official P.A. TV, “Talk of the Hour,‚ Feb. 21, 2019]
Palestinian Media Watch reported on the P.A.’s decision to cut the salaries of the law-abiding P.A. employees, which came in response to the decision of Israel’s Security Cabinet to implement Israel’s new Anti “Pay-for-Slay” Law and deduct 502 million shekels ($134.2 million)—the sum that the P.A. admitted to paying to terrorists and released terrorists in 2018—from the taxes it collects and transfers to the P.A.
In response to the decision of Israel’s Security Cabinet, Abbas announced that the Palestinian Authority will refuse to receive any of the taxes collected by Israel. The taxes that Israel collects and transfers to the P.A. amount to, on average, 670 million shekels/month. Cumulatively, they account for almost 50 percent of the P.A.’s annual budget. By refusing to accept the remaining taxes, the P.A. is self-imposing a significant financial crisis.
Alongside the announcement of the cut in pay to the public employees, the Minister of Finance’s announcement exposes the fact that 40 percent of P.A. employees earn less than 2,000 shekels/month (about $535). While this figure in itself is not of great significance, it demonstrates the reality that the P.A. pays terrorist prisoners who have been in prison for a cumulative period of three years more than it pays 40 percent of its law-abiding public employees.
The salaries the P.A. pays to terrorist prisoners increase the longer time a terrorist spends in prison. While the starting salary is 1,400 shekels/month (about $374), it increases over time to 12,000 shekels/month.
While Abu Rudeina declared that “we are prepared to sacrifice our salaries,” and while Minister Bishara added that “the burden of sacrifice and the burden of compromise falls on the top salaries,” in practice it would appear that the main burden of the P.A. decision will fall on the shoulders of the lower and mid-level public employees and less on those already earning the higher salaries. As Bishara explained:
“We have placed an upper limit of 10,000 shekels for the top of the pay scale of those receiving a maximum of 10,000 shekels—the honored ministers and their like.”
The financial crisis the Authority is now facing, and which requires the cuts in the salaries of its employees is entirely self-inflicted.
The origins of the crisis lie with the P.A.’s “Pay for Slay” policy and its squandering of hundreds of millions of shekels to pay financial rewards to terrorists. The crisis is now being compounded by the decision of Abbas to reject more than 630 million shekels (nearly $175 million) a month in potential tax revenues, just as a means to display his dismay at Israel finally taking steps to prevent him from using the tax revenues to reward terrorists. While the decision to penalize the P.A.’s law-abiding employees is not surprising, it clearly demonstrates the terror rewarding priorities of both Abbas and the P.A.