In an effort to refurbish their sullied image in Washington, the Palestinians are laying the groundwork for an overhaul to one of their most cherished but controversial practices: compensating those who serve time in Israeli prisons, including for violent attacks.
Eager to make a fresh start with the incoming Biden administration, Palestinian officials are heeding the advice of sympathetic Democrats who have repeatedly warned that without an end to the payments, it would be impossible for the new administration to do any heavy lifting on their behalf.
The Palestinian Authority’s policy to pay stipends to prisoners held by Israel, in a system critics call “pay to slay,” has long been denounced by Israel and its supporters as giving an incentive to terrorism because it assures would-be attackers that their dependents will be well cared for. Because payments are based largely on the length of the prison sentence, critics say the most heinous crimes are the most rewarded.
In a bipartisan rebuke to the system, Congress has repeatedly passed legislation to reduce aid to the Palestinians by the amount of those payments. The payments were cited by the Trump administration when it cut off funding and took other punitive measures against the Palestinians starting in 2018.