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Palestine Rejects US Proposal to Transfer Prisoners' Salaries to 'Social Welfare'

Palestine Rejects US Proposal to Transfer Prisoners' Salaries to 'Social Welfare'

Thursday, 27 January, 2022 - 08:45
Security checkpoint at an Israeli prison (File photo: Reuters)

Palestine rejected the proposal to transfer the salaries of Palestinian prisoners to the Ministry of Social Affairs, a Palestinian official asserted.

Hassan Abd Rabbo, an official in the Ministry of Detainees and Ex-Detainees, said that transferring the salaries is rejected.

Abed Rabbo told Asharq Al-Awsat that it is not the first proposal of this kind, but they are all rejected.

"They want to insult the struggle of the Palestinians through their suggestions," he said, adding that the detainees are fighters, not social cases.

Israeli N12 Channel reported that the US administration asked the Palestinian Authority (PA) to stop paying the salaries of detainees or ex-detainees and transfer the payments to social care within three years.

As part of the proposal, the US pledged to President Mahmoud Abbas to appoint a legal advisor to represent the PA in Washington as an alternative to reopening the PLO office in Washington, which was closed by the former administration.

The report stated there isn't any official confirmation to the offer yet, but PA sources said security prisoners above 60 years would be announced as retirees from the Authority's apparatus and receive allowances, while others will remain employees.

A senior Palestinian source stressed to N12 that Abbas understands that pressure will result in halting payments of prisoners' families, but the President is looking for a way to continue and transfer the money without criticism of Israel and Western countries.

The issue was discussed between Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Abbas during their last meeting.

Gantz raised two main issues, namely, the salaries of prisoners and the prosecution of Israel in The Hague.

The same issue was discussed between the Palestinian Minister of Civil Affairs, Hussein al-Sheikh, and the Israeli Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid, in their meeting a few days ago.

The Commission of Detainees Affairs is responsible for inmates inside and outside prisons and initially was a ministry.

The Authority became part of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), not the Palestinian government.

Last year, the Authority transferred the released prisoners to the ministries, agencies, and affiliated agencies. Many detainees were referred to retirement to end disputes with Israel and the US administration over their salaries.

The PA pays allowances starting from 2,000 Israeli shekels for the released prisoners, which increases according to the number of years of imprisonment.

It pays allowances starting from 4,000 shekels for detainees and may reach 8,000 and 12,000 shekels for those who spent more than 20 and 30 years in prison.

Tel Aviv deducts money from the tax revenues of the PA to compensate for payments that the Israelis say are "payment for murder," in reference to the salaries paid to families of martyrs and prisoners.

The salaries issue has been an ongoing crisis since July 2018.

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