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Originally published in the Daily Mail
British aid money is helping to pay ‘salaries’ to Palestinian prisoners – some of them convicted terrorists – serving time in Israeli jails, according to a report.
The Palestinian Authority is paying them up to £1,957 a month – more than the average salary of a UK worker.
The Department for International Development spends around £80million a year in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, of which around £30million goes to the general budget, which funds prisoners’ allowances.
A report by watchdog organisation Palestinian Media Watch shows how Palestinian Authority legislation – introduced last year – sets out eligibility criteria for the payments, which a minister claimed were ‘social assistance’ for prisoners’ families.
This includes those serving multiple life sentences for acts of terrorism, such as the planning and directing of suicide bombings.
The minimum salary is £230 a month, for a prisoner starting his sentence, and increases to a maximum of £1,957 a month for those serving more than 30 years, many of whom have been convicted of shocking atrocities.
The Foreign Office and DfID have denied that the UK funds terrorism or incitement to violence in the Palestinian territories.
Pauline Latham MP, of the International Development Select Committee said: ‘I hope that after further investigation, the DfID and the FCO can ascertain exactly how the Palestinian Authority spends aid money and put a stop to its use in detracting from any potential peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians.’
Prisoners: Palestinian prisoner allowances can go up to £1,957 a month for those serving more than 30 years (file picture)
Alan Duncan, International Development Minister, has written to MP Robert Halfon, who had questioned the UK’s role in funding these prisoners. He said: ‘The PA operates two social assistance programmes to provide welfare payments to households who have lost their main breadwinner.
‘I hope you will also agree that dependent spouses or children should not be held responsible for the crimes of family members, or forced to live in poverty as a consequence.’
Raheem Kassam, director of communications for the Henry Jackson Society, a foreign affairs think-tank in London said: ‘Incitement in the Palestinian territories is a crucial issue when considering the potential for peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians.
‘That Palestinian prisoners are being supported by UK taxpayer money is an absolute scandal that must be stopped.’