Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Sunday that Israel will implement a new law that mandates the withholding of monies collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, in order to offset salaries paid by the Ramallah government to terrorists or their families.
Speaking at the beginning of the Cabinet meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu stated that preparatory work will be concluded by next weekend and that the Security Cabinet will vote on implementation of the “Deductions Law” move next Sunday.
“Let nobody doubt, the funds will be deducted at the start of next week,” Netanyahu declared.
The law mandates deduction of an amount equal to terrorists’ salaries from the taxes collected by Israel on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, and comes as part of an effort to force the PA to end its “pay to slay” policy of institutional incitement and support for terrorism against Israelis and Jews.
The stipends are paid out in varying amounts in accordance with the severity of the crime and the length of the sentence to be served. The more violent and lethal the attack, the higher the monthly stipend. Payments are made to the families of those who die while perpetrating terrorist attacks.
Israel transfers NIS 8.5 billion (more than $2.4 billion) in tax payments to the PA annually. The PA’s budget in 2018 stood at NIS 18.5 billion ($5.2 billion) — with at least seven percent allocated toward monthly salaries for terrorists and their families in the government’s “pay to slay” program — the so-called “Prisoners and Martyrs’ Fund.”
In its 2018 budget, the PA increased its funding of those payments and allocated $360 million for the Prisoners and Martyrs Fund, which disperses payment to imprisoned terrorists, released terrorists and the families of dead terrorists.
Under Israel’s new legislation, the Defense Ministry is required to produce a report at the end of each year detailing the funds paid by the Palestinian Authority government via the Prisoners and Martyrs Fund to incarcerated terrorists and to their families of those who were killed.
The financial penalty mandated by the Deduction Law will be determined by the annual Defense Ministry report.
The law mandates the deduction with no options for flexibility, nor is there any option for the government to revisit the decision each year on whether or not to make the deduction, based on diplomatic and other considerations.
MKs Elazar Stern and Avi Dichter, who co-sponsored the law, stated Sunday that they welcome the enactment of the law, and that “it will clarify to the PA that there is a price for financially supporting terrorists, and we will collect it. We will act in any way possible to deter the terrorists. ”
The PA leadership has vowed to proceed with its policy of paying terrorists and supporting their families, “to their last penny,” as one official stated after the Israeli bill was voted into law.
The Palestinian Authority leadership also threatened not to take any of the funds transferred from Israel if the sums paid out to terrorists are cut from the transfers.
The sum that stands to be deducted equals hundreds of millions of shekels at this point, due to the numerous terror attacks that have been carried out with the encouragement and subsequent support of the PA government.
Content contributed by Aryeh Savir and TPS.