JERUSALEM, Israel – The Palestinian Authority just increased part of its budget that pays convicted terrorists and their families. The move comes despite pressure from the United States to end the practice.
On Friday, July 21, 19-year-old Omar al-Abed entered a home in the Jewish Samaria community of Halamish and murdered 70-year-old Yosef Salomon and his two grown children. Israeli media posted pictures showing the brutality of the murders.
"Their home was open, the door was unlocked because they were waiting for people from the community to come and celebrate with them the birth of this new grandchild, and within seconds they were murdered in their own homes," Miri Maoz Ovadia, spokesperson of Halamish, told CBN News.
After the murders, an off-duty soldier heard the ruckus and managed to shoot Abed through a window. He is recovering in an Israeli hospital, but according to long-standing policy by the Palestinian Authority, he'll now start receiving a salary.
"From Friday, the day that he was arrested and he will get a life sentence for murder and his salary is eventually going to reach 12,000 shekels, which is in the area of about 4,000 US dollars a month," Palestinian Media Watch director Itamar Marcus told CBN News.
The U.S. and the European Union condemn this practice and have pressured the Palestinian leadership to stop, but according to Marcus, the funding has increased.
The P.A.'s 2017 budget increased funds for terror prisoners by 13 percent and their families by 4 percent. This year, direct funding of terrorism has reached $355 million.
"It's a slap in the face to the United States. It's a slap in the face to the foreign affairs committee that just met last week to decide what to do about this," Marcus explained. "And I'm hoping that the Senate and the American people and the Congress and the administration will act very firmly on this reward to terror."
The U.S. Senate is now considering legislation named after Taylor Force, an American citizen killed by a Palestinian terrorist, to defund the P.A. if they continue to pay terrorists and their families," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, told CBN News.
"We're going to keep that aid flowing with one condition," Graham said. "The secretary of state has to certify that the Palestinian government is changing their behavior. If he can't do that we'll cut that money off."
Marcus says the P.A. legitimizes these payments.
"People don't understand why and I'll explain why this is so important. The Palestinian Authority claims to its people that they have a right to kill Israelis, literally, a right to kill Israelis – Israeli civilians, women, babies – and they claim that a U.N decision from the 1970s, which said the Palestinians have the right to use all means to gain their rights, means they have a right to kill civilians," he continued. "This is the way the Palestinian Authority interprets it, and they said it numerous times even in the last few months."
Marcus argues passing the Taylor Force Act would send a powerful statement to the P.A. that the United States rejects that kind of thinking.