American Tax Dollars Help Fund Hefty 'Salaries' for Jailed Palestinian Killers

6% of Ramallah Budget Goes to Terrorist Stipends

High Price: Marwan Barghouti, the jailed Palestinian leader, is one of scores of convicted terrorists who receive monthly stipends from authorities in Ramallah.
getty images
High Price: Marwan Barghouti, the jailed Palestinian leader, is one of scores of convicted terrorists who receive monthly stipends from authorities in Ramallah.

By Edwin Black

Published November 21, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Multi Page

At a time of endless budget crises, the sequester, bursting debt ceilings, government shutdowns, and a default averted at the eleventh hour, it may astound many that American taxpayers are deploying their precious dollars in Israel not to pay for peace but to support terrorists and their families. Each year, American aid and financial programs fungibly fund terrorist salaries paid by the Palestinian Authority.

The concept of fungibility is well-known in finance and to those who follow the money as it applies to terrorism. In brief, as it it classically defined, all dollars given to a specific entity meld together like all buckets of water in an ocean. Neither dollars in a bank account or buckets of water in an ocean can become distinct. Therefore, White House Executive Order 13224 prohibits all transactions with any entity that may directly or indirectly benefit terrorists. This is why one cannot donate money to support a Hamas food kitchen, because ultimately those dollars would be commingled with the funds diverted to terrorism.

The fact that the Palestinian Authority devotes so much of its finances to rewarding terrorists with generous salaries is an astonishing financial dynamic that is known to most Israeli leaders and western journalists in Israel, and has been reported on by the Jerusalem Post and other Israeli newspapers.

But it is still a shock to most in Congress, who are unaware that U.S. money going to the Palestinian Authority is regularly diverted to a program that systematically rewards terrorists with generous salaries.

More than that, this money grandly incentivizes murder and terror against innocent civilians.

Here’s how the system works. When a Palestinian is convicted of an act of terror against the Israeli government or innocent civilians, such as a bombing or a murder, that convicted terrorist automatically receives a generous salary from the Palestinian Authority. The salary is specified by the Palestinian Law of the Prisoner and administered by the PA’s Ministry of Prisoner Affairs. A Palestinian watchdog group, the Prisoners Club, ensures the PA’s compliance with the law and pushes for payments as a prioritized expenditure. This means that even during frequent budget shortfalls and financial crisis, the PA pays the terrorists’ salaries first and foremost — often before other fiscal obligations.

The Law of the Prisoner narrowly delineates just who is entitled to receive an official salary. In a recent interview, Ministry of Prisoners spokesman Amr Nasser read aloud that definition: “A detainee is each and every person who is in an Occupation prison based on his or her participation in the resistance to Occupation.” This means crimes against Israel or Israelis. Nasser was careful to explain, “It does not include common-law thieves and burglars. They are not included and are not part of the mandate of the Ministry.”

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.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • "A few decades ago, it would have been easy to add Jews to that list of disempowered victims. I could throw in Leo Frank, the victim of mob justice; or otherwise privileged Jewish men denied entrance to elite universities. These days, however, we have to search a lot harder." Are you worried about what's going in on #Ferguson?
  • Will you accept the challenge?
  • In the six years since Dothan launched its relocation program, 8 families have made the jump — but will they stay? We went there to find out:
  • "Jewish Israelis and West Bank Palestinians are witnessing — and living — two very different wars." Naomi Zeveloff's first on-the-ground dispatch from Israel:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.