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Palestine President: Will Pay Stipend To Political Prisoners

Palestinians attend a protest against Israel's plans to demolish the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, in the occupied West Bank July 6, 2018. | Photo: Reuters Palestinians attend a protest against Israel's plans to demolish the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, in the occupied West Bank July 6, 2018. | Photo: Reuters
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said his government will continue paying stipends to Palestinians jailed or killed by Israelis, and to their families.

President Abbas also said on Sunday that the state will keep paying families of those killed or imprisoned by Israeli forces, despite a new Israeli law that forbids such financial transactions.

Palestinians view those killed or detained by the Israeli government as heroes and political prisoners and that the welfare program helps to financially sustain them and their families. Israelis, on the other hand, say the stipend acts to encourage protests against them.

On July 2 the Israeli parliament voted 120-87 to withhold approximately US$330 million in annual tax revenues - the amount that would typically go toward this stipend during the 2018 fiscal year. The Israeli government currently has control over the Palestinian stipend allocation as part of an existing peace agreement between the two nations.

The measure, presented and passed by Israelis, allows their government to seize about seven percent of Palestine's US$5 billion budget for this year.

Just after the law was passed, senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi accused Israel of theft and piracy. "This is nothing short of highway robbery, this is real piracy, they are stealing Palestinian funds, it's not theirs to decide what to do with it, if we were free we wouldn't need Israel to collect customs."

"The money we pay to families of prisoners and martyrs, which Israel opposes, we will not allow anyone to intervene with it," said Abbas last week. He said the Palestinian authorities "will continue to pay for them."

"We are watching and are waiting and we will take the appropriate measures that suit our interest," Abbas said in a follow-up statement on Sunday.

Stipend amounts increases as the prison time does, which Israel considers incentive for Palestinians to commit more severe acts. Some 6,500 Palestinians are currently being held in Israeli jails, many of whom are minors.

Most of these jailed Palestinians who benefit from the payment are tried through Israeli military courts, which has a nearly 100 percent conviction rate of Palestinians.

Some 35,000 political prisoners, martyrs and their families receive this stipend.

  • Countries: Africa

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