Palestinian leader vows to keep paying attackers’ families
JERUSALEM (AP) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday that he will continue paying stipends to Palestinian attackers and their families despite the Israeli parliament’s decision last week to withhold hundreds of millions in funds from taxes collected on the Palestinian Authority’s behalf.
Abbas defiantly told a meeting of Fatah party leaders that the Palestinian government would pay “our martyrs and prisoners and wounded people” as it had since 1965.
Israel has called on Palestinians for years to halt the stipends, which benefit roughly 35,000 families of Palestinians killed, wounded or jailed in the conflict with Israel. Israel says the practice encourages violence.
Among the beneficiaries are families of suicide bombers and other militants involved in deadly attacks on Israelis.
The Palestinians contend the number of stipend recipients involved in deadly attacks is a small fraction of those aided by the fund. They say that the tax revenue collected by Israel for them under past peace agreements is their money and that the Palestinian Authority has a responsibility to all of its citizens like any other government.
The stipends amount to approximately $330 million, or about 7 percent of the Palestinian Authority’s $5 billion budget in 2018.
Abbas also said that the Trump administration’s efforts to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process are doomed to fail.
Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, said last month that the administration would soon present its Israeli-Palestinian peace plan whether or not it had Abbas’s support.
Abbas said the Palestinians would “will not let the ‘Deal of the Century’ work,” referring to Trump’s term for his administration’s peace efforts. Abbas said other Arab countries also have rejected the U.S. plan, but didn’t say which countries opposed the plan.