Last updated at 1:54 AM on 8th August 2011
British aid cash is being given to the families of suicide bombers, it was claimed last night.
The Palestinian Authority, which gets £86million of British aid a year, has authorised payments of almost £5million to the families of ‘martyrs’.
Another £3million has been given to 5,500 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. The payments, using taxpayers’ cash donated from Britain and the European Union, have been described as ‘ludicrous’ by one Tory MP.
The Palestinian Authority, which oversees the West Bank, has introduced a new law which pays the families of suicide bombers out of its civil service budget.
According to the official Palestinian daily newspaper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, payments to the families of ‘martyrs’ – those killed fighting Israel, including suicide bombers – totalled 3.5 per cent of the budget.
‘Every terrorist in prison, including those whose acts led to the deaths of Israeli civilians, are on the PA payroll,’ said Itamar Marcus, of Palestinian Media Watch.
‘The salary goes directly to the terrorist or the terrorist’s family, and prisoners receive their salaries from the day of arrest.’
Tory MP Philip Davies said the payments were ‘ludicrous’. He added: ‘People think overseas aid is to try to alleviate terrible poverty in places where they can’t afford to look after themselves. But it’s being put to these kind of purposes.
‘It would be bad enough at the best of times, but at a time when we have got no money, it is utterly inexcusable.’
Last month, Britain committed to giving £86million a year in aid to the Palestinian Authority until 2015.
The payments to families and prisoners are on a sliding scale, from £250 a month for prisoners sentenced to less than three years, to a maximum of £2,140 a month for anyone serving more than 30 years.
The payments compare with salaries of £515 for a regular Palestinian civil servant and £480 for officers in the Palestinian security forces.
Minister of State Alan Duncan said in February: ‘We are very careful how we spend our money in the occupied Palestinian territories. We would abhor any money falling into the hands of extremists.’
The Government is under pressure for the amount of aid it is handing out at a time of austerity. It plans to increase foreign aid payments by 35 per cent to £11.4billion by 2015.
This comes despite several scandals involving aid. Last week, it was revealed that money to Ethiopia was being used as a political tool and those who oppose the government do not receive handouts.
David Cameron has admitted that the controversial pledge to spend billions more on international aid was a ‘difficult commitment’ at a time when spending programmes were being slashed at home.
The Prime Minister admitted that some aid had been ‘wasted’, but continued to dismiss ‘aid sceptics’.