The PA’s priorities: Terrorist prisoners rather than cancer patients

Nan Jacques Zilberdik | Jun 23, 2022
 

“The great shortage in aid to the Palestinian health sector has led to a severe shortage in medicine, and especially medicine for cancer patients,” PA Minister of Health Mai Al-Kaila stated recently at a meeting with supporters and donors to the Palestinian health sector.

Al-Kaila blamed Israel and international donors for this, stating it is “a result of the financial siege that the occupation is attempting to impose on Palestine and the shortage in international aid.” 

But is that really true? 
– No, it isn’t.

Is there a part of the PA budget that could have been allocated to pay for medicine for cancer patients and other things needed in the PA health sector?
– Yes, there is.

The so-called “financial siege” imposed by Israel on the PA refers to Israel’s Anti “Pay-for-Slay” Law according to which Israel deducts a sum equal to the amount of money the PA spends on salaries to terrorists from the taxes Israel collects on behalf of the PA. Likewise, some international donors have frozen their funding to the PA because of this PA policy of rewarding terrorists who have attacked, murdered, and wounded Israeli civilians. Israel and these foreign donors have demanded the PA cease to reward and incentivize terror with generous salaries in order to resume the tax transfer and the funding.

Other donors, including the EU, have suspended funding to the PA due to the problematic content in PA schoolbooks, demanding that the PA edit out antisemitic, violent, and hateful content before they resume funding.

So if the PA and Minister of Health Al-Kaila really did prioritize “treatments to citizens,” all they had to do was cancel the terror payments. According to Palestinian Media Watch’s estimates, in 2021 alone, the PA squandered no less than 841 million shekels ($270.75 million) paying terror rewards!

But the PA is not putting its law-abiding citizens first. Not even the sick ones among them, and not even kids with cancer as PMW documented already in 2019 when the PA decided to stop sending its citizens in need of medical treatment to Israel because Israel refused to transfer the money the PA spent last year on salaries to terrorists. 

Luckily for the sick Palestinians, the EU has just decided to turn a blind eye to the continued PA terror salaries and the contents of the textbooks and announced that “the European Commission has approved a new bilateral allocation to Palestine worth €224.8 million.“ Some of the funds are allocated specifically to “referrals to the East Jerusalem Hospitals” and “purchase of COVID-19 vaccines”:

“This package includes €145.35 million to support the Palestinian Authority in the payments of the salaries and pensions of civil servants, the social allowances to vulnerable families, the referrals to the East Jerusalem Hospitals, and the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines authorised by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). In the framework on the EU’s Food and Resilience Facility in support of our Southern Neighbourhood partners, €10 million will be added to the allowances component, which will therefore amount to € 50 million in total. This additional support will aim to address the consequences of rising prices of food and commodities in Palestine, thus helping mitigate the impact of Russia’s war against Ukraine. As part of the €145.35 million package, €13 million is allocated for referrals to the East Jerusalem hospitals.” (Bold emphasis in original.)

[Website of the EU, June 14, 2022]

The following is a longer excerpt of the statement by PA Minister of Health Mai Al-Kaila:

Headline: “Al-Kaila: The great shortage in aid to the health sector has led to a severe shortage in medicine”
“[PA] Minister of Health Mai Al-Kaila said that the great shortage in aid to the Palestinian health sector has led to a severe shortage in medicine, and especially medicine for cancer patients, in addition to a drop in aid to the [Palestinian] hospitals in Jerusalem.
Al-Kaila said this yesterday, Wednesday [June 8, 2022], while leading a special meeting of a group of supporters and donors to the Palestinian health sector…
She emphasized that the Palestinian health sector – like the rest of the sectors – is suffering greatly as a result of the financial siege that the occupation is attempting to impose on Palestine (refers to Israel’s Anti “Pay-for-Slay” Law to deduct PA terror salaries; see note below -Ed.) and the shortage in international aid. She noted that this has greatly influenced the provision of treatments to citizens.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, June 9, 2022]

Israel’s Anti “Pay-for-Slay” Law – Israeli law stating that the PA payments to terrorists and the families of dead terrorists is a financial incentive to terror. The law instructs the state to deduct and freeze the amount of money the PA pays in salaries to imprisoned terrorists and families of “Martyrs” from the tax money Israel collects for the PA. Should the PA stop these payments for a full year, the Israeli government would have the option of giving all or part of the frozen money to the PA.The law was enacted by the Israeli Parliament on July 2, 2018. During the parliamentary vote, the law’s sponsor Avi Dichter said: “The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee received much help in its deliberations… from Palestinian Media Watch who provided us with authentic data that enabled productive and professional deliberations, nuances that are very difficult to achieve without precise data.” [Israeli Parliament website, July 2, 2018] In accordance with the law, as of September 2021 Israel’s Security Cabinet had ordered the freeze of 1.857 billion shekels ($580.15 million) – the sum equivalent to the PA payments to terrorists in 2018, 2019, and 2020.

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