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The Palestinian Authority's budget for 2018 will include a $355 million financial reward for convicted terrorists and their families, in open defiance of recently-passed US legislation that conditions future American aid to the Palestinians on a verifiable end to a policy dubbed by critics as "pay-for-slay."
Nearly 8 percent of the PA's $5 billion budget will be spent on the payments. In 2017, these funds were distributed across 21,500 so-called "martyrs families" using a sliding scale that provides the greatest compensation for the most severe acts of terror.
Many beneficiaries receive upwards of $2,000 per month in a territory where the average monthly salary is less than $600. According to World Bank calculations, the average Palestinian family in the West Bank faces monthly expenditures of $1,000.
An examination of the PA's 2018 budget conducted by Palestinian Media Watch -- an Israeli research and advocacy organization -- noted on Tuesday that almost half of the PA's anticipated foreign aid budget of $775 million is being spent on the terror payments.
"In open defiance of the US, other donor countries, and Israel, the PA's new budget shows it is continuing to reward terror," the report argued.
The report highlighted that "for the first time since 2014, the PA has stopped attempting to hide that it is the PA that pays salaries to all the terrorist prisoners."
In 2014, the report said, "the PA closed its Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs and lied to the international community, saying a new PLO Commission of Prisoners' Affairs was paying the salaries from non-PA sources." The fact that the PA has directly resumed these payments means "that the PA, by Israeli criteria, is a terrorist organization," the report observed.
Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) -- who introduced the Taylor Force Act, which targets the PA's policy, in the US House of Representatives -- declared in response to the PA's budget, "It seems like the Palestinian Authority did not receive the message we tried to send by passing this law, so now we have to ensure that the US will slash its funding to it."
The legislation -- named in memory of a former US army officer who was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist in Tel Aviv in March 2016 -- was passed by the Senate as part of its omnibus appropriations bill last week and subsequently signed by President Donald Trump..
"The Taylor Force Act was built precisely to put an end to this policy," Lamborn said.
Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon asserted on Tuesday that the PA's budget demonstrated that President Mahmoud Abbas had "revealed his true intentions as he directly funds hundreds of millions of dollars to terrorists with blood on their hands."
"Once again, the Palestinians have responded to American initiatives aimed at reconciliation with support for terror and violence," Danon said. "We call on the international community, and the United Nations, to join the US in their pledge to put an end to the funding of Palestinian terror."
The PA has fiercely criticized the new US legislation, condemning what its representative to the UN called "arm-twisting, blackmailing" methods that would "not break the will of the Palestinian people."
"We look at that act as being a hostile act to withdraw the economic assistance to the Palestinian people," said Riyad Mansour, the PA's representative to the UN, following the passage of the bill.