|Pet project: The £8million palace built by Palestine, which has received £72million of foreign aid (Daily Mail)|
The scandal of how Britain fritters away billions in foreign aid – including paying salaries to convicted terrorists who have murdered hundreds of innocent people – is exposed today by a major MoS investigation.
The shocking revelation that thousands of Palestinian terrorists, including men who have masterminded suicide bombings and murdered children, are given cash handouts from aid money will cause anger and disbelief, particularly in the wake of the Brussels massacres.
Our probe exposed how huge amounts of taxpayers’ cash, that critics say should be spent in Britain, is being ‘squandered’ on wasteful schemes elsewhere by the Department For International Development (DFID) and Foreign Office.
We dug beneath the headline figures on DFID’s websites to reveal waste and misguided largesse which seemed to extend to virtually every corner of the globe and which will shock readers. In the West Bank and Gaza, despite promises by the ruling Palestinian Authority (PA) to end the practice of paying aid money to convicted terrorists, our investigation revealed that they had simply duped the West by allowing the Palestine Liberation Organisation to hand out the cash instead.
Britain gives £72 million a year to Palestine, more than one-third of which goes straight to the PA. It openly admits supporting terrorists whom it hails as heroes for fighting illegal occupation, awarding lifetime payments that rise depending on time spent in jail and the seriousness of crimes.
One Hamas master bomber has reportedly been given more than £100,000. Other ‘salaries’ go to the families of suicide bombers and even teenagers involved in the latest upsurge of deadly attacks on Israel.
DFID and the European Union are still effectively supporting these payments to thousands of terrorists – despite claims to have ended such links two years ago. This was confirmed to the MoS by former prisoners and families receiving the cash, and in official statements by the PA.
We also visited a lavish £8 million palace that Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas is having built on the West Bank.
Ahmad Musa sits beside me, a convicted double murderer sentenced to life in prison. As we talk, I ask him if he did indeed kill the two men. ‘Yes, I shot them dead,’ he replies.
Yet we do not meet in a jail cell. Musa is free, released after just five years. For he is a Palestinian terrorist and he was liberated under a peace deal.
Like thousands more Palestinian prisoners, including jihadi bombers and killers of children, Musa enjoys his freedom after being awarded a ‘salary’ for life.
He gets £605 every month, others get far more. If they die, the cash goes to their family. These men are seen as terrorists, certainly by Israel, and many in the West
But, astonishingly, the money behind these payments – described by some as ‘rewards for murder’ – flows from British and European taxpayers.
The UK cash comes from the Department for International Development, which will give up to £25.5million this year to the ruling Palestinian Authority (PA) as part of a £72million aid package. Our investigation discovered that the PA passes millions on to the infamous Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) – which in turn gives it to convicted terrorists locked up in Israeli prisons and their families.
Among them are Amjad and Hakim Awad, cousins who killed Ehud and Ruth Fogel and their three children in their West Bank home in 2011. It is estimated that Amjad alone may have been paid up to £16,000 from the fund so far.
Amjad Awad (pictured) and his cousin Hakim Awad killed Ehud and Ruth Fogel and their three children in their West Bank home in 2011. They have been getting foreign aid since they were convicted for life (Dailu Mail)
Also on the payroll is Abdallah Barghouti, the Hamas bomb-maker who was sentenced to life after attacks in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It is thought he has received payments totaling £106,000.
Dfid confirms that the PLO makes such payments, calling them ‘social welfare’ provisions for prisoners’ families.
It denies, however, that any British cash reaches terrorists, with the PLO taking over such payments two years ago from the PA after an international outcry.
But a Mail on Sunday investigation has found that Britain funded the PLO until last year and that the PA openly boasts of still funding salaries of convicted terrorists, even in its own official statements.
Former prisoners and the families of terrorists we have spoken to also confirmed receiving cash from both the PA and the PLO.
British aid money is supposed to be rebuilding and developing the Palestinian territories. However a devastating new report to be released this week by Palestinian Media Watch, an Israeli NGO, suggests that Western donors have been duped by assertions that the Authority no longer funds terrorists.
Some Hamas terrorist masterminds have reportedly been given more than £100,000.
Other ‘salaries’ go to relatives of suicide bombers and even teenagers involved in the latest upsurge of deadly attacks on Israel. Several ex-prisoners confirmed to me that they were paid monthly stipends that started in jail.
One said they also received a ‘bonus’ on leaving prison and lucrative civil service job offers, the most senior posts going to those serving more than 15 years behind bars, even though they are not qualified.
PA officials openly defend such stipends. Amr Nasser, adviser to the minister of social affairs, said: ‘It is not a crime to be fighting occupation. These people are heroes.
‘We could be giving them much more money and it would not be enough.’ Nasser added that, if Palestine won independence, the government would seek reparations from Britain for its historic role in encouraging Zionism, saying ‘You should pay us more money.’
Tory MP Andrew Percy said last night: ‘How can we justify foreign aid as a noble endeavour when taxpayers money goes to pay terrorists? The government has got to get a grip.’
The four million Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza receive the highest aid support per head in the world.
Tzipi Hotovely, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, said: ‘This serves as a huge financial incentive to carry out acts of terror against Jews.
‘Is it imaginable for a Western government to contemplate subsidising acts of mass murder and terror in this fashion? Yet that is effectively what is happening.’
Among those paid is Abdallah Bargouti, a Hamas leader given 67 life sentences for lethal attacks in 2001 and 2002, including a restaurant bombing that killed 15 diners. He is thought to have earned more than £100,000 since conviction, handed to his family.
The cash-strapped PA relies on foreign aid for nearly half its budget. Yet it gives £79 million a year to prisoners locked up in Israeli jails, former prisoners and their families.
Although DFID says the salaries are ‘social welfare’ provisions, they go to people convicted of ‘acts of resistance’.
The department also insists payments come from the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), which was handed responsibility for prisoner welfare two years ago after concerns over aiding terrorism were raised in Westminster and Brussels.
Yet the father of two brothers jailed for gun attacks on Israeli settlers and soldiers told me he received monthly payments of £428 from the PA as well as £285 from the PLO.
Britain has provided aid in the past to the PLO, although this ceased last year.
The Palestinian Media Watch report suggests that Western donors have been misled by detailing documents and official statements exposing how the PA still funds the salaries of convicted terrorists.
Evidence includes the Ministry of Finance saying in an official statement last year it transfers almost half its budget to Gaza, adding this includes ‘the salaries of prisoners, the released and the families of the Martyrs and wounded.’
The report also reveals the PA transferred an extra 444m shekels to the PLO in 2015 - significantly, only marginally more than the 442m shekel budget given to its own Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs the previous year before it transferred responsibility.
Itamar Marcus, the report’s author, said: ‘There is wilful blindness by the UK and EU, who were happy not to even carry out the simplest investigation.’
The group also claims to have discovered two cases of individuals who carried out attacks for cash.
In one, Khalad Rajoub, a father of seven arrested for attempted murder two years ago, told police he had big debts and planned to die during an attack.
He is reported to have said: ‘My family would get money and live comfortably… my children would get a monthly allowance.’
A DFID spokesman denied funding terrorism and defended aid support to the PA. ‘This helps build Palestinian institutions and promotes economic growth.’
The sprawling building sits high on a hill, a presidential palace looking down imperiously on thousands of beleaguered West Bank residents crammed in below.
When I visited the impressive mansion on six acres of land, builders were putting finishing touches to its fine limestone walls and water displays. ‘This is like a five-star hotel,’ one security guard told me. ‘It has two helipads, two swimming pools, a Jacuzzi, restaurant… all the latest technology.’
This £9 million palace in Sudra, just weeks away from opening, was designed for Mahmoud Abbas – a president whose domain is so dependent on aid that last year his Palestinian Authority had to pass an emergency budget when some was held up by Israel.
In Gaza – a place where there is rampant poverty – I witnessed bizarre scenes: long queues of people at bank cashpoints.
It was pay day for thousands of civil servants whose salaries are supported by Western aid, even though they have had no jobs since 2007.
Mahmoud, an accountant, said he was given more than £1,000 a month. ‘I just sit at home, spending time with my family. Sometimes I travel abroad to visit relatives,’ he said.
Others admitted to second jobs as shopkeepers and taxi drivers. One ex-teacher, who still draws his £6,000-a-year salary, confessed to running a dairy, completing a master’s degree in Britain and working as a journalist.
‘Getting paid from Britain while living here means you can have a good life,’ he said, although he added that his home was devastated in Israeli air strikes two years ago.
The salary payments are a legacy of the Palestinian divisions since Hamas took control of Gaza from Fatah, the rival faction recognised by the international community.
At least 60,000 officials were told to stop working by Fatah yet are still being paid. Many of them have been replaced by Hamas officials.
Mohammad Aboshair, 37, a police officer, said: ‘We hoped it would not last long. It is really wrong to stay in our homes and get paid without jobs. I wanted to serve my country, not become a burden – this is crazy.’ Three years ago auditors urged the EU to stop the salaries. Critics condemned ‘blatant misuse of taxpayers’ money’ that undermined the credibility of Brussels when millions of Europeans were jobless. Dfid sources said the cash went only to civil servants on an approved EU list and insisted they took precautions to ensure British aid did not support Hamas.
Of course, by paying for the PA salaries in Gaza, the UK and EU are effectively supporting Hamas indirectly.
We've been talking about this for years - my first post on this was in 2005 - and Palestinian Media Watch has been reporting on specifics for quite a while, but it is nice to see that Western media is finally picking up on this.
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