The Ministerial Legislative Committee on Sunday approved a bill proposed by MK Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid) and co-sponsored by many coalition members, withholding customs and taxes Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in an amount equal to the salaries the PA pays terrorists and their families. Initially, the vote in committee was going to be pushed off a week, to permit security forces to comment on the proposed law, but a meeting of the coalition party leaders decided to advance the bill to a preliminary reading in the Knesset.
The coalition leaders agreed to promote the bill subject to government approval, meaning it could be yanked should the political situation vis-à-vis the PA change.
The pressure to go ahead with the bill came from rightwing Likud members, as well as from Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu), who had reached an agreement on the new legislation.
The bill, dubbed “cessation of salary payments to terrorists,” submitted by Stern and coalition MKs, states that any amount Israel transfers to the Authority must be deducted from the amount of PA support for terrorists over the past year, based on a report issued each fiscal year by the Defense Ministry analyzing data published by the Palestinian Authority year.
Part of the Palestinian Authority’s budget, which is largely funded by American and European aid, is directed to salaries and benefits to terrorists in Israeli security prisons, as well as allowances to families whose loved ones were killed when carrying out acts of terrorists. These payments amount to more than $850 million annually. Under Palestinian Authority law, the longer the sentence imposed on a terrorist – which means he or she had killed more Israelis – the bigger the salary they receive.
MK Stern reacted to the news saying, “Today we have proven that there’s no opposition and coalition on matters of the state’s security, and we can all work together for the citizens of the State of Israel.”