As has been noted here before, the issue of the Palestinian Authority’s payment of salaries to convicted terrorists is a topic which is serially excluded from the view of BBC audiences.
That subject is obviously of interest to governments and tax payers alike in the many countries that donate aid to the Palestinian Authority – including of course the BBC’s funding British public. Familiarity with the issue is also key to understanding of both the eternal PA budget deficit and the background to Palestinian terrorism.
“Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, today (Thursday, 16 March 2017), pursuant to his authority under Article 3 of the 2016 Fight Against Terrorism Law, declared the “Palestinian National Fund” (hereinafter “the fund”) to be a terrorist organization.
The decision to declare the fund a terrorist organization stems from its continuing and ongoing activity in providing massive support for elements responsible for committing severe acts of terrorism against Israel.
The fund serves – inter alia – as a significant financial pipeline for tens of millions of shekels that are transferred on a monthly basis to security prisoners held in Israel for committing acts of terrorism and to members of their families. In effect, the longer the sentence, the greater the payments to the prisoner and his family.
The fund also supports family members of terrorists who were wounded and killed while perpetrating acts of terrorism against Israel.
The fund has a vital role in the financial support for Palestinian terrorist operatives imprisoned in Israel, and it is used as the most significant route for transferring funds.
The fund is headed by Ramzi Elias Yousef Khouri, a senior PLO official who is close to senior Palestinian Authority leaders.
As of today, all necessary actions will be taken in Israel and overseas in order to seize and confiscate property and assets designated for, or belonging to, the fund.”
The PNF is – to put it mildly – not the most transparently run body.
“The Palestinian National Fund was founded in 1964 by members of the PLO in order to serve as the body which will manage the Palestinian people’s funds. The person who headed the fund was unofficially considered the Palestinian finance minister. The fund’s sources of funding were defined as taxes collected from PLO members (about 5 percent of the salaries of PLO members in the Gulf), donations from businesspeople, donations from Arab and other states, from organizations, and more.
Over the years, tens of billions of dollars were transferred to the fund’s coffer (it is estimated that some $30 billion passed through the fund’s accounts by early 2000). The Arab states’ annual financial aid to the PLO reached some $300 million since the mid 1960s.
Over the years, the fund also received different grants in light of the organization’s political stance. After the occupation of Kuwait in 1990, for example, Iraqi tyrant Saddam Hussein gave the Palestinian fund a “gift” worth $150 million to thank the PLO for its support of his policy. This is only one example of many.
The Palestinian fund has not only maintained its status since the PA was established after the Oslo Agreements in 1993, but it seems it has also increased its influence. One could say that since the PA’s establishment, the Amman-based National Fund has turned into a sort of secret coffer of the two PA chairmen, Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas. The control of the fund and the billions it manages have given the two leaders huge political power. […]
According to PLO regulations, the Palestinian National Fund should be run by a special council, and its chairman should be one of the members of the organization’s Executive Committee. In practice, however, the fund has not had a chairman for 15 years now, against regulations. About a decade ago, Abbas decided, as the PLO chairman, to appoint Ramzi Khoury, who served as Arafat’s bureau chief, as the fund’s CEO.
This means that Abbas basically controls the fund’s money, and that he knows of and approves the flow of funds to finance anti-Israel activity and propaganda.”
As readers may be aware, until a few years ago the monthly payments to convicted terrorists were made directly by the Palestinian Authority itself. However, in August 2014 changes were ostensibly made to the system.
“In 2014, the PA announced that in order to continue receiving more than a billion dollars in financial support annually, it was acceding to US and European donor countries’ demands that the PA stop paying salaries to terrorist prisoners. The PA claimed the money for prisoners salaries would no longer be paid by the PA but instead by the PLO.”
Nevertheless, as Palestinian Media Watch has documented:
“In 2015, after the PA had assured Western donors it was no longer paying the salaries, and after it had closed the Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs, it suddenly transferred more than double what it had transferred to the PLO in previous years. The additional amount transferred by the PA to the PLO in 2015 was almost identical to the budget the PA Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs used to have. This extra money the PLO received from the PA in 2015 matches the amount the PLO now needed to pay the salaries of terrorist prisoners.
The payments may be made by the PLO, but the money is still PA money.”
The role of the newly blacklisted Palestinian National Fund is explained as follows by PMW:
“…PMW has uncovered PA Ministry of Finance documents that indicate a money trail, showing the transfer of money from the PA to the Palestinian National Fund (PNF), the body that funds the PLO, in the amount needed to pay the salaries to terrorist prisoners […]
In 2015, after the Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs was closed, the PA raised its annual transfer to the PLO via the Palestinian National Fund by 481 million shekels ($128 million):
2014 transfer – 294 million shekels
2015 transfer – 775 million shekels
The additional 481 million shekels the PLO received from the PA in 2015 was the amount it needed to fund the PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs, undertaking the responsibilities of the Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs. The transfer of 481 million is virtually identical to the budget of the Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs in 2014 (442 million), plus 10% yearly growth due to rising prisoners salaries. According to PA law, the salaries of terrorist prisoners rise the longer they are in prison.
This route – money transfers from the PA to the PNF and then to the PLO – is the way the PA is transferring money to the PLO in order to continue funding salaries to terrorist prisoners, and to keep their payments hidden from donor countries.”
If a president (particularly one with an expired mandate) in any other location in the world had control over a shadowy fund that, among other things, facilitated the provision of rewards – and incentives – for terrorism, one can be pretty sure that the BBC’s journalistic curiosity would be piqued. However in the case of Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, the BBC remains typically dumb.