Palestinians angered by ‘war crime’ claim

Palestinian officials have expressed “great concern” after a report by the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor warned that Palestinian stipends to attackers and their families could constitute a war crime.

Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riad Malki said the prosecutor’s office’s report was “based on misleading narratives of a political nature … rather than an objective and accurate description of the relevant facts.”

President Mahmoud Abbas’s government appeared to have been caught off guard by the language of the criticism found in the report.

The Palestinians have long paid stipends to the families of people killed or imprisoned as a result of fighting with Israel. The Palestinians say these payments are a national duty to families affected by decades of violence. But Israel argues the fund encourages violence by paying the families of attackers.

Earlier this year, Israel withheld millions of dollars in tax revenues it collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority equal to the sum of the Palestinian stipends.

Abbas has repeatedly said he will not halt the payments, which totalled approximately $330 million – around 7 per cent of the Palestinian Authority’s $5 billion budget – in 2018.

Read the article in The Australian (AP).