Last week, the Norwegian state-owned television station, NRK TV, reported that salaries of terrorists affiliated with the Palestinian Authority were possibly being paid for by Norwegian foreign aid. The Norwegian Foreign Ministry has admitted giving Parliament “imprecise” information that was allegedly “obtained from the PA” and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad about the PA’s use of foreign aid to pay terrorist salaries.
Norway’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement that said: “It is unfortunate that the information that was first communicated by the Foreign Ministry to Parliament and which was based on information obtained from the PA at the time, in retrospect, is imprecise.”
NRK TV also reported that the Norwegian Parliamentary Committee on Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs is not satisfied with the first answer it has received from the Norwegian Foreign Ministry regarding the PA’s use of Norwegian aid for terrorist salaries. The Committee has “demanded a better and more thorough answer from the Foreign Ministry,” according to the station.
“Two weeks ago, [NRK TV] Evening News told [the story] of Ibrahim Hamed. He is one of the approx. 4,600 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, who, according to the Israeli organization Palestinian Media Watch, receive salaries from the PA while they are in prison… The Norwegian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly denied that salaries are given to terrorists…”
Commenting to NRK TV News, Per-Kristian Foss, an MP and member of the Parliamentary Committee said, “Apparently, the Foreign Ministry is on thin ice. We will request answers to the question: When did you, (the Foreign Ministry), discover this so-called new information? Isn’t this really information that has been available for a long time (i.e., from the PMW reports)?”
In his letter, the Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide explained that:
“According to the PA, the discussed support program is not a salary – but direct support for the prisoners’ canteen expenses and social allowance to the families of prisoners. The social allowance compensates for the loss of income because the main breadwinner is no longer able to contribute.”
Minister Barth Eide stated that “this is what we and other donors have been told on previous occasions, and this was again maintained by PA Prime Minister Fayyad in a meeting with Norwegian representatives last week [March 2013].” Discussing “the arrangement and level of the support program for the prisoners” at the meeting, the Norwegian representatives had stated “that we (Norway) find aspects of this [prisoner support program] problematic,” the minister explained.
Admitting that Norway has “been made aware of new information on this issue that differs from earlier information provided by the PA,” the Foreign Minister further explained in the letter that the Norwegian representatives at the meeting with Fayyad therefore also “stated that we (Norway) find this unfortunate.”
This “new information” is now being questioned by the Parliamentary Committee on Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs. In the Committee’s answer to the Foreign Minister, the Committee says:
“The Committee would like to know which investigations were undertaken [by the Foreign Ministry] to verify the information that was provided to Parliament on the PA’s use of the budget support and the scope and extent of the ‘social support.’ Has the Foreign Ministry, for example, assured itself that the ‘social support’ has gone to the prisoners’ families?” The Committee ends its letter to the Foreign Ministry questioning when the ministry received what the minister refers to as “new information” with the following question: “What information is referred to and when did the Foreign Ministry receive such information?”
The Norwegian Foreign Ministry’s answer corroborates PMW’s findings published last month that the PA may have been lying to Norway and Britain about the PA’s use of foreign aid to pay terrorist salaries in order to receive continued funding from these countries.