Mahmoud Abbas pledges to maintain salaries for terrorists
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The Isreali-Palestinian conflict is one of the major political issues of the 20th and 21st century and is yet to see successful negotiation between the two sides.
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The geopolitical history is extremely complex and any dichotomous analysis should be avoided. Yet, a peaceful resolution seems to escape further away after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's latest political stand.
Abbas has pledged to continue paying salaries to convicted terrorists and their families. Around 5,500 convicted terrorists are receiving monthly salaries, ranging from £230 to as much as £2,000 for those with longer prison sentences.
This could cost him the presidency not only because of negative public opinion but also due to the impact on Palestinian international relations. Indeed, even if the Palestinian Authority (PA) earlier reassured US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that this practice was coming to an end.
However, almost immediately, a Palestinian official denied this to Reuters.
It was revealed that £214 million paid for these salaries in 2016. This is worth 7% of the government’s budget and 20% of its foreign aid receipts. This voluntary aid could be withdrawn if the PA does not keep his promises.
This news can mean nothing good to international aid Palestine is receiving as this pledge comes less than six months after The Express published that UK foreign aid was funding Palestinian terror schools, which promoted terrorism and trained child soldiers.
Britain’s yearly £25million aid is supposed to be used to promote health and education in the West Bank, located east of Israel. Still, however, Donald Trump budget proposals included an increase in aid to the Palestinians.
PA Mahmoud Abbad via Wikimedia Commons
Yet, the population’s indignation is comprehensible as state employees in Gaza will see their salaries cut in the near future after an announcement by the Palestinian Authority in April.
Furthermore, it was announced that this pressure will push 6,000 civil servants into early retirement as the power struggle between Abbas's Fatah Movement and Hamas, who control the Gaza Strip continues.
The conflict has already severed the living condition of the population and like anywhere else in the world, where citizens could see his or her salary cut while prisoners, who have broken the law and thus left the work system, are still being paid, this will have caused anger and indignation.
Even though helping their family financially would be better understood if it was to save those people from poverty.
Officially stating his position on this policy, Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas could also appear as the resolution-reluctant party in the conflict while politics around the world still have a glimpse of faith in peaceful and successful negotiation. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is currently travelling to Israel on a three-day visit and met Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday. Before Abbas’ stunt, the prime minister declared: "We believe in a two-state solution in which both Israel and a future Palestinian state coexist peacefully".
Indian Prime Minister Modi via Wikimedia Commons
Yet, according to Al-Jazeera, the threatened middle-east media which could soon broadcast for the last time, Palestinians were unhappy that the Indian Prime Minister forgot to visit them as well and his decision not to meet Abbas. The Palestinian Deputy Foreign Minister said that the PM should have visited both states 'to spread the message of peace'.
Will all those pending issues be resolved amicably, or at least nonviolent discussion? Yet, as in any war politicians are sometimes acting strangely against the well-being of their own people. While Abbas' motivations have nothing to do with financial stability, would he prioritise his own convictions rather than embracing the role of a thoughtful leader?
Notwithstanding the reality of the people living under those conditions and this new ‘political’ stunt are in direct contradiction with the hope of Indian Prime Minister Modi.
Indeed, Human Rights Watch 2016 World Report stated that there were still severe and discriminatory restrictions on Palestinians' human rights including Gaza, a densely populated strip of land that is mostly surrounded by Israel and peopled almost exclusively by Palestinians, where movement of people and goods are restricted either way. The report further describes atrocities from both sides, including murders, violence, property destruction and abuse from security forces, sometimes even escalating up to a violation of international laws on war.
While those atrocities are likely to continue, political leaders around the world are not helping by taking position over this conflict.
It is important to give both sides time and support.
As long as one of the party will continue to feel rejected in their own right as a nation by the international community, no effort will arise on either side while political decisions such as the PA 'prisoners’ salaries will constantly escalate as if both governments were playing a ping-pong game.