The Palestinian Authority is considering stopping paying stipends to Palestinian prisoners detained in Israeli jails as well as to the families of Palestinians who are killed by Israel, the New York Times reported.
The paper quoted Palestinian officials as saying that the PA is taking advice from sympathetic Democrats in a bid to improve its ties with the administration of President-elect Joe Biden.
The paper quoted the chairman of the Palestinian Authority’s Prisoners Affairs Commission, Qadri Abu Bakr, as saying: “The proposal would give the families of Palestinian prisoners stipends based on their financial need instead of how long they are behind bars,” adding that “economic need must serve as the basis. A single man should not be earning the same as someone with a family.”
Richard Falk: The kind of witnessing that Baroud’s book gives us, offers the opportunity of direct contact with #Palestinian prisoners, so that as many people as possible are exposed to that. I congratulate him for producing such a book https://t.co/CogEVdnlFm #Palestine pic.twitter.com/Kyx3y3RfOF
— Ramzy Baroud (@RamzyBaroud) November 17, 2020
According to the official, the proposal needs the approval of Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas.
The former Palestinian Minister of Prisoners Affairs, Ashraf Al-Ajrami, said he expects the planned amendments to cause public anger, but acknowledged that the PA was eager to change the system because of the diplomatic toll it had taken.
Meanwhile, Qassam Barghouti, the son of detained Fatah leader, Marwan Barghouti, slammed the amendments, describing them as “100 percent unacceptable and shameful”.
“The prisoners are not a social welfare issue,” he told the paper. “People are paid more for spending longer periods of time in prison to recognize their sacrifices: The more time you spend behind bars, the greater your value to your society.”
The paper quoted Palestinian officials as saying they also plan to require released prisoners to work in the public sector.
Abu Bakr told the paper that currently, many former prisoners are paid what amounts to monthly pensions for sitting idle. “We shouldn’t be delivering salaries to people for doing nothing,” he said.
The amendments will also include payments to the families of Palestinians who are murdered by Israelis.
The Palestinian officials said the PA intends to start strictly tying these payments to financial need, the details of how they would do so remain unclear.
(MEMO, PC, Social Media)