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International Community Shields Assets of a State Sponsor of Terror

December 8, 2005 By:
Rachel Ehrenfeld
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Victims of Palestinian terrorism should take note of Palestinian Authority finance minister Salam Fayad's recent resignation.

Fayad is said to be particularly upset because P.A. Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei arranged that the $350 million being donated to the P.A. in 2005 is paying to employ 60,000 people in the security services. Among these are Palestinian terrorists serving time in Israeli prisons. The prisoners include those who murdered Israelis, suicide bomber dispatchers and suicide bombers caught en route.

"We don't know if 10,000 to 15,000 of these people are even still working or not," said the head of the parliament's economic committee, Azmi Shuabi.

Saadi al-Wahidi, a senior official at the P.A.'s Civil Service Administration, told the Palestinian newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda on November 16 that the P.A. has created a special committee to determine the pension eligibility of all members of Palestinian armed organizations, such as the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade, the Kassam Brigade, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The payments will be retroactive and include current and former Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons.

This committee was established following the September 3 announcement by the Palestinian Minister for Prisoner Affairs, Sufayan Abu Zayda, that his office deposits salaries of $400 to $500 a month for each prisoner, in addition to a $50 monthly payment each for expenses in the prison canteen. The Palestinian Prison Affairs office also funds current prisoners' legal expenses and medical treatment.

All together, Abu Zayda said, his office receives $4 million a month from the P.A. to support Palestinian terrorists held in Israeli prisons.

The P.A.'s open financial support for terrorists builds on the official legal recognition and responsibility taken for all Palestinian terrorists by the P.A., made for the first time on August 21 by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. Praising the terrorists who died, Abbas said that their families "need to be truly cared for, not just by [Palestinian] society but [also] by the Palestinian Authority, and therefore we have decided to allocate 5 percent of all government positions to them."

Abu Zayda also noted that an additional $100,000 is dedicated to tuition for every terrorist prisoner who seeks higher education.

On Sept. 7, in a follow-up interview with Al Quds, another Palestinian daily, Abu Zayda reported that another decision had been taken by the P.A. to increase the salaries of all Palestinian security forces. Since the Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons are considered part of these forces, their income will also rise.

In addition, those who have served the longest terms in Israeli prisons - i.e., those who have committed the most heinous crimes - will receive the highest compensation. Those who have served 25 years will receive about $900 a month. Prisoners who are residents of Jerusalem will receive an extra $50 monthly.

This generous sponsorship of Palestinian terrorists should now enable all victims of Palestinian terror to sue the P.A. However, they are likely to face great difficulties enforcing judgments against it.

As Gary M. Osen, a leading expert in terror financing litigation, observed: "Court victories against the P.A. are necessary and important, but … because most of the world's governments shield the P.A.'s assets, collecting on a judgment … is still very difficult."

Moreover, while the international community, including the European Union and the United States, shield Palestinian assets, they continue to fund the Palestinian Authority.

The abrupt and angry resignation of Fayad, who was seen by all as the symbol of a new Palestinian system of financial reform, should have resulted in immediate sanctions against the massive corruption in the P.A. But the international community has set out to create a Palestinian state, and nothing - not even the Palestinian Authority's admitted sponsorship of convicted terrorists - is likely to stop it.

Rachel Ehrenfeld is director of American Center for Democracy.

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