In order to avoid this international pressure, the PA is planning a ploy to maintain the salaries but transfer responsibility for payments from the PA to the PLO. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is also the head of the PLO and he will continue to be directly responsible for the payments to the prisoners. (See below)
PMW reported last week on what the PA daily calls "forces of the US Congress," who are against paying salaries to terrorists. During the testimony by Assistant Secretary of State, Ambassador Anne W. Patterson at a congressional Subcommittee Hearing, Congressman Weber asked:
"If the PA is paying for terrorists in prison, we ought to also be willing to hit them with some economic sanctions of that sort?"
At the time, PMW wrote that the PA had never indicated that they would cut back payments to terrorists, and that in fact the payments were increasing in 2014. There had been no evidence of what Assistant Secretary Patterson referred to as the PA "phasing out" their salary payments to terrorists. It may be that this PA ploy - to keep the benefits and salaries at the same level but bypass Congressional pressure by moving it to the PLO - is what the PA presented to Patterson as a "phasing out" of the salary program.
"The decision [to transfer the payments from the PA to the PLO] is the PA's response to Israeli pressure to which it has been subjected for a long time, specifically, non-stop criticism of the [PA's] support of the prisoners, which it [Israel] considers 'support of terrorism,' as well as the protests Israel has voiced through the media against the great honor the released prisoners receive at the reception in the Palestinian Presidential Headquarters...
Deputy Minister of Prisoners' Affairs [Abu Ein] emphasized that the prisoners' and released prisoners' affairs portfolio 'will be transferred to the PLO leadership instead of remaining under [the authority of] a government of technocrats, and that this would also avoid the pressure being exerted on the PA by the donor countries, which oppose the transfer of their money to prisoners...'
On another issue, [Deputy Minister of Prisoners' Affairs] Abu Ein said that the [total sum] of the salaries of the released prisoners, who number over 5,000, 'exceeds 10 million shekels a month, a large part of which goes to people occupying senior positions in the private sector, including directors of banks, companies, non-governmental institutions and media institutions.' He added: 'the principle says that the government must employ people, and not pay salaries without results...'
Abu Ein said that the Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs transfers approximately 27 million shekels a month to the prisoners in the occupation prisons, to pay for salaries and expenses."
"The Secretary-General of Fatah's Revolutionary Council, Amin Maqbul... emphasized that the Prisoners' Affairs Authority will enjoy all the powers that the Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs had."
Should this PLO Prisoners Authority be set up as planned by the PA, PMW will continue its reporting on the PA payments to terrorists from all PA and PLO sources.
Click to view more on PA salaries to terrorists.