Photo Credit: Haim Zach / GPO
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman

Israel’s finance ministry objects to new bills sponsored by the defense ministry and MK Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid), aimed at offsetting salaries being paid out to terrorists—in and out of Israeli security prisons—by the Palestinian Authority, according to an internal memo from the legal department of the finance ministry published by Walla on Thursday.

The bill obliges the finance ministry to deduct from VAT and customs it collects on behalf of the PA an amount equal to the salaries it pays to the terrorists on its payroll.

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The defense ministry of Defense recently revealed that PA payments to Palestinian prisoners, released prisoners, families of terrorists and wounded terrorists a mindboggling 1.2 billion shekel (about $341 million) annually, which translates into comfortable monthly salaries: for example, an Israeli-born terrorist, married with three children, serving a life sentence, is entitled to 10,950 shekel ($3,110) per month. The highest average Israeli monthly salary is 10,177 shekel ($2,890).

The bill offsetting terrorist salaries would deduct those hundreds of millions of dollars from the money due the PA, and, if Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) gets his way, move these funds to Israeli terror victims.

The bill was put up for a vote on the agenda of the Ministerial Legislative Committee last week, but the vote was postponed because Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) abroad. This week, it was again placed on the agenda, but the finance ministry objected, casting doubt on its chances to pass the committee.

The memo signed by the legal council of the finance ministry and sent out to every government ministries involved in drafting the bill, warned that the ministry opposes the proposal, especially on “irreversible deduction.” The ministry prefers freezing the funds due the PA, but not giving them away to terror victims, because, we presume, this would constitute theft, and everyone’s mother has taught them that two wrongs don’t make a right.

The ministry’s legal council emphasized: “We oppose the use of the deducted funds in projects and missions to boost the struggle against terror and terror financing.”

Needless to say, the government ministries that received the legal memo were astonished, especially since representatives of the finance ministry were among the bill’s authors.

“It’s delusional,” one such source told Walla, suggesting finance ministry officials “don’t want to lose control of the money even at the cost of torpedoing a law aimed at fighting the support of the Palestinian Authority for terrorists and their families.”

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