Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has written a letter this week to the Palestinian Authority asking for assurances Australian aid hasn’t funded payments to “martyrs”.
Conservatives leader Cory Bernardi has long argued for cuts to foreign aid and for transparency in tracking every dollar spent.
The Australian reports, the Palestinian authority has been accused of paying stipends or “martyr payments” to the families of those killed or jailed by Israeli authorities of up to US$3,500 a month.
A DFAT official said the payments are in conflict with Australian values.
“Obviously that is completely at odds with Australian values,” the official told a Senate Estimates hearing under questioning from Liberal Senator Eric Abetz.
“So on the 29th of May our foreign minister has written to her counterpart raising concerns about these payments that show up in the Palestinian authority’s budget and seeking assurances that the Australian funding in any way enable or encourage acts of violence.”
“The Foreign Minister herself sought further explanation and assurance from the Palestinian authority.”
Australia allocated $43.8 million in humanitarian assistance to the region in 2017-18 and reduced the funding slightly to $43 million in 2018-19.
Earlier this year the US passed The Taylor Force Act to stop funding to the Palestinian Authority until the authority stops these payments. The act had exemptions for funding to water and childhood vaccination programs.
Senator Abetz said: “I find it unacceptable we are willing to provide funding in these circumstances”.
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