Speaking on the official Palestinian Authority TV channel on May 7, Husein Al-Sheikh, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, said that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was categorically against the American demand to halt the salaries paid by the PLO to the [Palestinian] prisoners and families of "martyrs" and that the issue was "not up for discussion at all." "It is Israel that should be placed on trial, not the Palestinians," he said.
Husein Al-Sheikh: As you know, before the visit of Mahmoud Abbas to the U.S., there was a surging wave...
Interviewer: A campaign...
Husein Al-Sheikh: Yes, the Israelis conducted a powerful campaign, especially with regard to the issue of the martyrs and the prisoners, and [against] the salaries paid by the PLO to the prisoners and the families of the martyrs. I'm sad to say that (Israel) has managed to garner some American support for the Israeli position on this matter. Then they began to exert tremendous pressure on us regarding this issue. As far as I'm concerned, this matter is behind us. All the officials, from all levels, who talked to us and to Mahmoud Abbas on this... This is no secret... All the American and other parties talked to Mahmoud Abbas about this, and his response was decisive. We said that this issue was not up for discussion at all, and that this has been our duty toward the prisoners and the martyrs since 1965. It is one of the resolutions of the Palestinian National Council. When the causes for this cease to exist, perhaps the issue will be discussed, but the causes still exist, and first and foremost among them is the occupation. When the occupation comes to an end and a Palestinian state is established, the PLO and the Palestinian Authority may perhaps consider these issues anew. But as long as there is an occupation... Well, Israel also spends money on its soldiers, who die in wars, and spends money on their families. So why isn't Israel placed on trial? The occupation is the worst form of terrorism.
Husein Al-Sheikh: It is the worst form of terrorism that can be conducted against a people. So it is Israel that should be placed on trial, not the Palestinians. On the basis of this issue... For our part, we have dealt with this in all responsibility, As I said, the chairman's response was categorically opposed, and this is not up for discussion with any party whatsoever.