It does indeed.
The Palestinian Authority promotes violence against Israel. Officials do it in public speeches. PA-run television and radio make it a theme, as do the curricula and textbooks of PA schools. The incitement is so unrelenting that it’s drawn criticism even from supporters of the PA, such as President Obama—and, remarkably enough, from the United Nations Security Council.
Incitement, however, is only part of the picture. Palestinian officials don’t rely only on words. To spur knifings, car-rammings, and the like, they use an apparatus of cash incentives. The PA has enacted legislation and created bureaucracies to ensure financial rewards for perpetrators of anti-Israel attacks. Payment amounts correlate to the number of people the terrorists manage to victimize. It’s a system that not only foments violence but also makes terrorism a lucrative career choice for young Palestinians.
Critics have labeled this system “pay for slay.” It has received little public attention—far less than the incitement issue. But it deserves more, especially because U.S. taxpayers help fund the blood payments. The U.S. government averages $400 million in annual aid to the PA, and those aid dollars are fungible.
The pay-for-slay system is neither secret nor private. Rather, it is open and official. And it’s not the work of Hamas, which governs Gaza and which the U.S. government categorizes as extremist and a terrorist organization. It’s the work of the PA, generally described as nonviolent and committed to peace.
Legalism is a trait common among authoritarians. Nondemocratic societies lack rule of law, but they generally don’t lack laws. Their laws, in fact, tell us a lot about them. In the case of “pay for slay,” the relevant legislation is the PA’s “Amended Palestinian Prisoners Law No. 19 (2004).”
Articles 5 and 8 apply to terrorists released from Israeli prisons. Those who served a year or more are exempted from
a. tuition fees at government schools and universities.
b. health insurance payments.
c. tuition fees for all professional training programs offered by the relevant official bodies.
Some released prisoners work as PA civil servants. For each of these, prison time served is accounted for as if it had been civil-service work: The law says the PA “shall pay his social security and pension fees . . . for the years he spent in prison.”
Articles 6 and 7 apply to terrorists still incarcerated. “Every incarcerated prisoner” is entitled to a monthly salary “linked to the cost-of-living index.” A portion thereof goes directly to the prisoner’s family.
In 2013, the PA amended the law to promise employment to released prisoners, giving them “priority in annual job placements in all State institutions.” If employment is unavailable for qualified prisoners, the amendment entitles them to a monthly salary, disability payments, and death benefits payable to their families.
The State, it says, “will make up the difference” if the salary of a released prisoner working as a civil servant “is lower than the salary he received in prison.”The PA pays monthly salaries to terrorists for life if they are men released from prison after five or more years or women after two or more years. Prisoners who served relatively short sentences are not entitled to employment; they get unemployment benefits for their periods of incarceration. Every prisoner who did time for at least a year, however, “is entitled to a one-time release grant.”
The law guarantees a “salaried position in a State institution” to any male ex-prisoner incarcerated for 10 or more years, and any female who served five years. The positions for such prisoners are high-ranking and highly paid, ensuring not only that long-incarcerated terrorists are financially comfortable but that they dominate the PA’s various bureaucracies. The PA has organized itself not only to be for terrorists, but also of and by terrorists.
These benefits now apply also “to members of PLO factions arrested outside of Palestine for participating in the struggle for the independence and liberation of Palestine.” Bonuses are paid if the terrorists are Israeli Arabs or Arab residents of Jerusalem.
The PA created the Prisoners and Released Prisoners Ministry to administer this program of support. The ministry received a PA budget allocation of $118 million in 2014 and $140 million in 2016. To provide for the families of dead terrorists, the PA created the Institution for the Care for the Families of the Martyrs. Its allocation was $163 million in 2014 and $175 million in 2016.
These are enormous numbers, given that the PA annual budget totals approximately $4.4 billion. They reflect the generous size of the PA’s individual payments. Salaries start at $400 per month for terrorists incarcerated for up to three years. They rise to $570 for those in for three to five years, and $1,142 for five to 10 years. For those serving more than 30 years, the salary is $3,429. That’s per month. And this is a society in which the gross national product per capita amounts to $258 per month.
One-time grants to released prisoners start at $1,500 for terrorists who served one to three years and rise to $6,000 for those with 11-to-15-year terms and $25,000 for those over 30 years.
Monthly payments to families of dead terrorists are commensurately ample.
All of these payments increase according to the length of incarceration, which roughly correlates to the number of people that the terrorist killed or harmed. So the more victims in Israel, the more money the PA pays to the terrorist.
The Palestinians have had wretched political leadership for a century, since World War I, when Britain ended Turkey’s 400-year ownership of Palestine. Their leaders have chosen the anti-democratic—and losing—side of every major conflict for the last hundred years.
Despite everything—despite the long history of conflict—it remains possible that the Palestinians might someday achieve peace, prosperity, and some kind of national independence. But they’ll never get it if they continue to be dominated by dishonest, corrupt, authoritarian, and violent leaders. They’ll never get it if their leaders are the kind of people who pay rewards to terrorist murderers.