Speaking at a PLO Central Council meeting, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas said that the Palestinian government will continue to pay salaries to the families of martyrs, prisoners, and wounded Palestinians, even if salaries are subtracted from Palestinian money held by Israel. He said that the families are sacred, and stated: “Even if we only have one cent left, it should go to them and not to the living.” Abbas also denied the claim that there are only 40,000 Palestinian refugees left, and said that today there are [5 million] Palestinian refugees. Abbas’s remarks aired on Palestine TV on Oct. 28, 2018.
Following are excerpts:
Mahmoud Abbas: “I say it so that everybody can hear: The salaries of our martyrs, our prisoners, and our wounded are where we draw the line. They try to put the pressure on us using any means possible. They are still exerting pressure, saying that we must not make these payments. Even if they eventually subtract the sum that we pay to the martyrs from our money that is being held by them, we will not [cross] that red line, and we told them so. This has been a sacred issue for us since 1965. The martyrs and their families are sacred. The wounded, the prisoners; we must pay them all. Even if we only have one cent left, it should go to them and not to the living.
“What is left of the “Deal of the Century”? Jerusalem? You have swallowed it, and you moved your embassy there. The refugees and their rights? You have put an end to this, and you shut down UNRWA. You even had the audacity to say that there are 40,000 refugees [left]. To hell with you! How can it be 40,000? The number of refugees who left Palestine in 1948-49 was 950,000. Now they number [5 million]. Why do [the Americans] say it is 45,000? So they can claim that the issue of the refugees is over. Well, it’s not.”