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Under a sliding scale, carefully articulated in the Law of the Prisoner, the more heinous the act of terrorism, the longer the prison sentence, and consequently, the higher is the salary. Detention for up to three years fetches a salary of almost $400 per month. Prisoners incarcerated between three and five years will be paid about $560 monthly — a compensation level already higher than that for many ordinary West Bank jobs. Sentences of ten to fifteen years fetch salaries of about $1,690 per month. Even greater acts of terrorism, punished with sentences between fifteen and twenty years, earn almost $2,000 per month.
These are the best salaries in the Palestinian territories. The Arabic word ratib, meaning “salary,” is the official term for this compensation. The law ensures the greatest financial reward for the most egregious acts of terrorism.
In the Palestinian community, the salaries are no secret—they are publicly hailed in public speeches and special TV reports. From time to time, the salaries are augmented with special additional financial incentives. For example, in 2009, a $150-per-prisoner bonus was approved to mark the religious holiday of Eid al-Adha. President Mahmoud Abbas also directed that an extra $190 “be added to the stipends given to Palestinians affiliated with PLO factions in Israeli prisons this month.” Reporting on the additional emolument, the Palestinian news service Ma’an explained, “Each PLO-affiliated prisoner [already] receives [a special allocation of] $238 per month, plus an extra $71 if they are married, and an extra $12 for each child. The stipend is paid by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) each month.”
About 6 percent of the Palestinian budget is diverted to terrorist salaries. All this money comes mostly from so-called “donor countries” such as the United States, Great Britain, Norway, and Denmark. Palestinian officials have reacted with defiance to any foreign governmental effort to end the salaries. “Deputy Minister of Prisoners Affairs Ziyad Abu Ein declared to the satellite TV network Hona Al-Quds: “If the financial assistance and support to the PA are stopped, the [payment of] salaries (Rawatib) and allowances (Mukhassasat) to Palestinian prisoners will not be stopped, whatever the cost may be. The prisoners are our joy. We will sacrifice everything for them and continue to provide for their families.”
It must be little comfort for federal workers who were recently denied their salaries during our government shutdown to learn that the PA nonetheless paid terrorists promptly and generously using our tax dollars. Those terrorist salaries are still being paid today.
Edwin Black is the award-winning author of the international bestseller IBM and the Holocaust. This article is drawn from his just-released book, Financing the Flames: How Tax-Exempt and Public Money Fuel a Culture of Confrontation and Terrorism in Israel.