by: Maurice Hirsch, Adv. and Itamar Marcus
Friday, 5 June 2020 | The PA [Palestinian Authority] announced yesterday that in the coming days it will pay the monthly salaries to imprisoned terrorists in cooperation with and through the banks that are active in the PA.
This is a defiant move against Israeli authority and rule of law by the banks that are apparently under pressure from the PA.
Banks that will receive the terrorists’ salaries are violating a new law that came into effect in Judea and Samaria on May 9, 2020. The new law determines that paying rewards for acts of terror constitutes a crime, and anyone who is involved in the process is committing a crime—including the banks and their employees.
Director of PLO [Palestinian Liberation Organization] Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs Qadri Abu Bakr announced that the PA will continue to pay the terrorists’ salaries through the banks for four months until the establishment of a new “banking institution” that will be subordinate to the PLO. This plan for a new bank was undertaken by the PA because of the new Israeli law. However, even accepting the salaries for one month is a violation of Israeli law.
A month and a half ago Palestinian Media Watch [PMW] notified the banks that are active in the PA and warned them that the newly signed law makes the PA’s payments to the imprisoned terrorists a crime even if committed in the PA areas. Any person or institution who aids in implementing these payments is committing a crime and could be arrested, put on trial, and have the relevant property seized. PMW also warned that the banks’ cooperation is liable to expose them to civil suits.
Following the warning and shortly before the new law took effect on May 9, 2020, the banks contacted the PA minister of finance, noting the risks to which the banks will be exposed if they continue to provide the platform for paying the terrorists’ salaries, and they asked the PA to stop transferring the salaries through the banks.
At the same time, PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh announced that a committee would be established to examine the issue and formulate recommendations.
Later on, Shtayyeh added that the team’s work is continuing and that they had not yet found a solution to both continue paying the salaries to the terrorists and also protect the banks.
Just a few days ago, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Association of Banks Maher Al-Masri said that a solution has still not been found for the issue of paying the terrorists’ salaries.
In the same article, Chairman of the PA-funded Prisoners’ Club Qadura Fares was quoted as saying that: “The club’s position on the matter of the prisoners’ salaries is clear: A rejection of any solution other than payment through the banks.”
In the struggle between the PA’s insistence on continuing to pay terror rewards to terrorists through the banks that are active in the PA, and the banks’ desire to avoid being involved in committing terror crimes, it appears the PA has the upper hand for now.
But as was stated in PMW’s warning letter to the banks, cooperation with an act that is defined in law as “a prohibited action with terror assets” is liable to cause the launch of the investigation, arrest, and putting on trial of the various bank managers. At the same time, this is liable to expose the banks to additional enforcement actions, including the issuing of orders to seize the money paid to the terrorists and also civil suits. Banks that have branches in the US are liable to be particularly exposed in this context. The PA’s pressure to reward terrorists will not help the banks to escape the situation that has been created.
Posted on June 5, 2020
Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published in Palestinian Media Watch on June 2, 2020. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)
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