The Palestinian Authority has given convicted terrorists released from Israeli prison in recent months a $50,000 bonus, Israel Radio reported Monday morning, prompting one Israeli news site to ask whether crime does, in fact, pay.
The Israeli government has agreed to a request from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to release 52 prisoners as a goodwill gesture to encourage Palestinian officials to return to long-dormant peace talks. A total of 104 prisoners are set to be freed as part of the Obama administration-brokered deal.
All of those released since the summer were convicted murderers, and among those, perpetrators of gruesome crimes including kidnapping, axing, torturing or burning their victims to death. They had all been sentenced to serve life sentences.
Israel Radio reported that after they were released last month, prisoners each received a hefty get-out-of-jail gift of $50,000 from the Palestinian Authority.
“In addition, they are also given a monthly stipend that ranges from NIS 8,000 ($2,300) – 14,000 ($4,000) in addition to other state benefits and perks,” the Jerusalem Post reported.
“The salary granted to each prisoner depended upon the length of his incarceration. Those who were held for over 25 years were entitled to $50,000, in addition to a position as a deputy minister or a promotion to the rank of major-general in the security forces, both of which earn monthly wages of NIS 14,000 (nearly $4,000),” the Times of Israel reported.
Those who served less than 25 years in prison reportedly received the $50,000 payout and were given the deputy director title in a government ministry or the rank of brigadier-general. Those positions pay a monthly salary of $2,800.
The Times of Israel further reported that the longest-serving among the released prisoners, Issa Abd Rabbo, got a $60,000 grant. The Palestinian Authority reportedly told him that if he decides to marry, the government will pay for his wedding expenses. An Israeli court convicted him of murdering two Israeli hikers in 1984. He had first tied them up at gunpoint and placed bags over their heads.
A senior Palestinian official said the aim is to help the released prisoners get back on their feet and to “begin their lives anew.”
So where is that money coming from?
TheBlaze last week reported on a new book, “Financing the Flames: How Tax-Exempt and Public Money Fuel a Culture of Confrontation and Terrorism in Israel,” with the thesis of how American tax dollars are used to fund Palestinian terrorism.
“It may astound many that American taxpayers are deploying their precious dollars in Israel not just to pay for peace but to fund terrorism. Each year, American aid and financial programs fungibly fund terrorist salaries paid by the Palestinian Authority,” the book’s author Edwin Black wrote in the Times of Israel.
“This is part of a larger pattern of financial mismanagement and waste that dates back to the creation of the Palestinian Authority in 1994,” said Jonathan Schanzer, a former Treasury Department terrorism finance analyst now with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Schanzer, author of the new book, “State of Failure: Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Unmaking of the Palestinian State” told TheBlaze on Monday that the "transfer of state funds to convicted murderers is not only unethical, it is a gross misallocation of resources, particularly given the ongoing financial crisis in the West Bank.”
“It will now be critical for U.S. policymakers to learn what specific funds were tapped for the transfer of these monies in order to determine whether U.S. taxpayer dollars were associated in any way,” Schanzer said.
The U.S. gives the Palestinian Authority about $500 million per year. Kerry has floated an additional $4 billion infusion to the Palestinians if they reach a negotiated peace deal with Israel.
After this latest report about the $50,000 bonuses, the blog Israel Matzav wrote, “Of course, since the 'Palestinian Authority' is perpetually broke, that's $2.6 million of your taxes so far, with $2.6 million to go. Aren't you glad that Obama and Kerry are facilitating such a wise use of your (American) taxes?”