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memri
July 10, 2017 No.
7001

'Abbas, PA Officials, Reaffirm Commitment To Continue Paying Allowances To Prisoners And Martyrs' Families

In spite of U.S. demands to halt the payment of allowances to Palestinian prisoners and families of martyrs, senior PA officials, chief of them President Mahmoud 'Abbas, reiterate their position that the allowances must continue because the recipients are not terrorists but rather soldiers who fought for their people, and because the allowances constitute social aid.[1] This report reviews recent statements by PA officials on this matter.

'Abbas: I Will Not Compromise On Prisoners' And Martyrs' Allowances

The Gazan online daily Dunya Al-Watan quoted Fatah Central Committee member Jamal Muhaisen as praising 'Abbas's position on the prisoners' allowances. According to Muhaisen, 'Abbas said in response to the U.S. demand to stop the allowances: "Even if I have to resign, I will not compromise on the martyrs' and prisoners' allowances. I am president of all the Palestinian people, including the prisoners, martyrs, wounded, deportees and forced migrants."[2] This statement by 'Abbas also featured in a banner on Fatah's official Facebook page:[3]


'Abbas In Statement To Herzliya Conference: "The Payments To Support Families Are A Social Responsibility"

In a statement to the June 2017 Herzliya Conference that was read out by his advisor Nabil Sha'th, 'Abbas said that "the payments to support families are a social responsibility to look after innocent people affected by the incarceration or killing of their loved ones as a result of the military occupation."[4]

Head Of The Palestinian Prisoners Club: The Allowances Are A Matter Of Consensus; Our Struggle Is A Just One

Qadura Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, said in an interview with the Al-Quds daily: "The issue of the allowances for the prisoners and released prisoners is an essential and ideological one that is very dear to our hearts as [members of the] Palestinian people... Our narrative is that our struggle is just and legitimate, and can only be relinquished after we attain our rights in full, rights that are upheld by international law... The issue of the allowances is a matter of principle, and nobody in the [Palestinian] leadership or in the PLO can relinquish this principle, in any way. There is a clear consensus that [the allowances] must not be stopped, so this does not worry me at all."[5]

Columnist In PA Daily Al-Ayyam: The Incidents In Which Civilians Were Hurt Were Anomalous Mistakes

Muhannad 'Abd Al-Hamid, columnist for the PA daily Al-Ayyam, wrote: "The war on [our] national symbols, which includes a dismantling of the national and humane value system, is the immediate danger currently threatening the Palestinian people... The campaign over the monument to the martyr Khaled Nazzal in the city of Jenin[6] was the latest expression of this kind of struggle, in which [our] national resolve overcame the arrogance of the occupation, [for] despite destroying the monument... the occupation did not manage and will never manage to expunge the love and esteem felt by the [Palestinian] youth towards the martyrs, including the martyr Khaled Nazzal whose name remains etched in their hearts. On the contrary, the occupation's attack on the monument helped new generations of Palestinians to become familiar with [Nazzal,] one of the best people who risked their lives and gave everything for the sake of their people's freedom...

"If the Israeli-American demand to punish the families of martyrs and prisoners by revoking their financial rights is met, it will mean turning the struggle for the liberation of Palestine – a struggle whose legitimacy is recognized by an absolute majority of the world's countries – into a crime; in other words, [it will mean] expunging the national and humane values whose essence is freedom... [We] must reject these demands out of hand and refuse to negotiate over them, no matter how harsh the Israeli and American reaction and how high a price [we must] pay...

"Israel exploits Palestinian mistakes and violations of international law, especially the tendency to sometimes target civilians inside or outside the lands of dispute or to target non-Israelis. I speak of [actions] that the Palestinians soon recognized to be tactical mistakes and gave up, like the plane hijackings [of the 1960s and 1980s], the [1972] Munich attack on the Israeli athletes, the attack on the Opec meeting [in Vienna in 1975], and the Hamas suicide attacks on Israeli targets that were officially condemned by the Palestinian [Authority], [which also] arrested those responsible for them. Yes, in the course of the struggle there were mistakes and Palestinian violations [of international law] that harmed the Palestinian cause. But these were exceptions, not the rule, and since they were secondary, the international support for the Palestinian people remained and even increased. Israel and the U.S., and some Western circles, [deliberately] confuse the legitimate Palestinian struggle, which is the main and sweeping approach, with illegitimate operations against civilians that violate international law. Israel wants to use these mistakes to lump the [entire] Palestinian struggle with global terrorism and [with the actions of] extremist takfiri organizations...

"The Palestinians' recognition of [their] mistakes, their desisting from [such actions], and their upholding of international law, which recognizes the legitimacy of the Palestinian struggle, are the best answer to the Israeli-American extortion. They are also the starting point for a Palestinian counterattack against Israel's state terrorism and crimes, which have no expiry date. While the Palestinian mistakes are the exception, Israel's violations [of international law] and atrocities are the rule. Moreover, the [Palestinian] mistakes – which are the exception – do not turn the fighters [responsible for them] into terrorists. They remain freedom fighters, confronting the Israeli violations, which are tantamount to crimes against humanity."[7]

Al-Ayyam Columnist: Israel Seeks To Malign Our Sacred Struggle, Present It As Terror

Al-Ayyam columnist Tawfiq Abu Shumar, wrote: "We thought that Israel, like other countries, had closed the book on [the issue of] the Palestinian prisoners based on the saying 'peace is made with enemies'... The purpose of including the issue of the prisoners under the label of terrorism is to de-sanctify the Palestinian cause and erase the term 'prisoner of war' from [the discourse on] Palestinian prisoners by accusing them of terrorism. To complete the task, one has only to associate them with global terrorism, which blackens the image of the Palestinian cause...

"[By means of] a broad international campaign, sponsored by the U.S., Israel managed to convince countries that the money of American and European tax payers is winding up in the pockets of Palestinian prisoners, that is, [Palestinian] terrorists. Israel compiled a special dossier which it submitted to Donald Trump, listing the recipients of allowances, by number of years spent in jail. It circulated this dossier among its embassies and turned it, using its influence in the media, into the new urgent issue [on the agenda]. The worst consequence [of this] is that the imprisoned fighters are harmed, and come to the conclusion that their country was not worth their sacrifice. This is [precisely] what Israel aims to achieve: to deliver a blow to the innate drive of the sacred Palestinian struggle. This is [precisely] the way to dismantle the most important foundation of the Palestinian struggle, before destroying, one by one, the other main pillars of this struggle, namely Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, the Palestinian refugees' right of return, an end to the occupation, and the dismantling of the settlements."[8]

 

 

[1] The PA financial support for imprisoned and released prisoners and the families of martyrs was reviewed in detail by MEMRI president Yigal Carmon in his July 6, 2016 testimony to the U.S. Congress. See MEMRI Daily Brief No. 97, MEMRI President Yigal Carmon's Testimony To House Committee On Foreign Affairs, July 6, 2016: Palestinian Authority Support For Imprisoned, Released, And Wounded Terrorists And Families Of 'Martyrs'," July 6, 2016.

[2] Alwatanvoice.com, July 2, 2017.

[3] Facebook.com/officialfateh1965, July 2, 2017.

[4] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), June 22, 2017.

[5] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), June 24, 2017.

[6] Khaled Nazzal was head of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), and was responsible for orchestrating deadly attacks against Israelis, including the Ma'a lot massacre, in which 27 Israelis, most of them schoolchildren, were killed. On the recent Palestinian efforts to commemorate him, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6989, Palestinian Struggle To Commemorate Mastermind Of 1974 Deadly Attack On Israeli Schoolchildren, July 3, 2017.

[7] Al-Ayyam (PA), July 4, 2017.

[8] Al-Ayyam (PA), June 28, 2017.