July 24, 2018 Special Dispatch No. 7583

Palestinian Authority (PA) President 'Abbas: 'If We Had Only A Single Penny Left, We Would Pay It To Families Of The Martyrs And Prisoners'

July 24, 2018
Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 7583

Since U.S. President Donald Trump took office, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been pressured to stop the allowances it has been paying to families of Palestinian martyrs, wounded, prisoners, and released prisoners since it was established, on the grounds that these payments encourage continued terrorism.[1]

Senior PA officials, headed by PA President Mahmoud 'Abbas, totally reject this demand, and emphasize that these payments will not be stopped, noting that they are a clear national obligation. Thus, for example, at an August 2017 meeting with President Trump's advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner, 'Abbas said that he would never stop the payments to the families of prisoners, released prisoners, and martyrs, even if he was forced out of office as a result.[2] A month later, Abbas said in an interview with the London-based Qatari daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi that he would not give in to the American and Israeli demand to stop payments to the families of prisoners and martyrs, calling them "fighters" and underlining his obligation to them.[3]

In similar statements yesterday, July 23, 2018, at a Ramallah ceremony, he called the prisoners "pioneers" and "stars in the firmament of the Palestinian people's struggle" who head the Palestinian priorities. He added that the payments would not be stopped.

'Abbas confers a medal on the family of a "martyred prisoner" (Source, July 23, 2018)

At the July 23 Ramallah ceremony, which was to honor prisoners – some of them who died in Israeli prisons (during the 1980-1992 hunger strikes in the prisons), and some released prisoners – 'Abbas conferred medals on the families of the "martyred prisoners" and on the released prisoners, and said, inter alia: "We will neither reduce nor prevent [payment] of allowances to the families of martyrs, prisoners, and released prisoners, as some seek, and if we had only a single penny left, we would pay it to families of the martyrs and prisoners." He stressed: "From our standpoint, the martyrs and prisoners are stars in the firmament of the Palestinian people's struggle, and take priority in every matter. In 1965, a few days after the outbreak of the Palestinian revolution, the first mission undertaken by the martyr late president Yasser Arafat was to establish an institution to care for the families of the martyrs and the mujahideen of Palestine – for they are the pioneers and must be cared for, and we will care for them." He expressed his deep appreciation for the activity on the prisoners' behalf, and noted that it "paves the way for the liberation of Palestine."

On this occasion, Fatah Central Committee secretary-general Jibril Rajoub called the prisoners the sector "that is most important and most vital in confronting the occupation, for 51 years." Addressing 'Abbas, said: "Your Excellency is being strongly pressured with the aim of removing the issue of the martyrs and prisoners from the top of your list of priorities, but your stubborn refusal reflects how deeply rooted the prisoners' suffering is in your conscience."[4]


[1] For more on PA payments to the families of prisoners and martyrs families, see: MEMRI TV Clip No. 6179, Former Chief Palestinian Negotiator Nabil Shaath: We Will Not Stop Payment To Prisoners And Their Families, August 27, 2017; MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1321, Palestinian Authority, PLO Officials: Allowances To Prisoners Will Continue; 'This Issue Is Not Subject To U.S.-Israeli Extortion,' June 16, 2017; MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7070, Palestinian Media Stresses: President Mahmoud 'Abbas Refuses To Halt Payments To Prisoners, Families Of Martyrs, August 28, 2017; MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7001, 'Abbas, PA Officials, Reaffirm Commitment To Continue Paying Allowances To Prisoners And Martyrs' Families, July 10, 2017; MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1327, 2017 Palestinian Authority Budget Shows: Salaries, Benefits For Prisoners, Released Prisoners Several Times Higher Than Welfare For Needy, August 22, 2017. The allowances paid by the PA to incarcerated and released prisoners and to the families of "martyrs" were described in detail by MEMRI President Yigal Carmon in his July 6, 2016 testimony before 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] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), August 27, 2017.

[3] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), September 19, 2017; MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7100, 'Abbas Ahead Of UNGA Speech: I Will Continue Payments To Families Of Prisoners And Martyrs, September 20, 2017.

[4]  Al-Hayat  (PA), July 24, 2018.

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