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PA to halt Palestinian prisoner funds to mend relations with US

Many prisoners are held without charge [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 November, 2020

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The PA is planning to end its payments to prisoners after US Democrats said the only way a Biden administration will show sympathy to them is if the payments stop.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) is planning to stop compensating Palestinian prisoners in a new bid to get closer to the incoming Biden administration.

In a bid to forge better relations with the next US government, led by President-elect Joe Biden, Palestinian officials say they are taking the advice of sympathetic Democrats.

They have told the PA that it would be impossible for the Biden government to support them without an end to the payments, according to New York Times.

The PA policy to pay stipends to prisoners held by Israel, many held in administrative detention, has long been denounced by Israel and is claimed to be an incentive for "terrorism".

However, the payments are seen as necessary and a life-line, especially for families whose main breadwinners are behind bars.

In an attempt to put pressure on the PA, the US Congress repeatedly passed legislation to reduce aid to Palestinians by the same amount made to the prisoners.

Read also: Palestinian prisoners have no right to social distancing despite coronavirus threat, Israeli court rules

The payments were cited by the Trump administration when it cut funding to Palestinians starting in 2018.

Israel's prisoner population currently includes around 5,700 Palestinians, including 200 children, 44 women, five members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, and 27 journalists.

Around 470 Palestinian prisoners are held in "administrative detention" without charge or trial, according to reports.

Under the administrative detention order, Israel detains Palestinians for six months at a time, which can be extended indefinitely.

Israel has illegally occupied the West Bank since 1967 and is accused of various abuses against Palestinian civilians.

In April, the UN Human Rights Council and the Red Cross urged Israel to release vulnerable prisoners, saying that they were in danger of contracting coronavirus, although there was no Israeli response.

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