Photo Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib / Flash 90
PA Arabs sign for their monthly salaries in Rafah, Gaza, September 4, 2008.

Economist Shukri Bishara who has served as the Palestinian Authority’s Finance Minister since 2013, on Wednesday told The Financial Times the Authority would have to “stop and reconsider everything” it is doing in two to three weeks if Israel continues to withhold a substantial part of its revenues.

Since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1994, Israel collects taxes and customs on behalf of Ramallah, but ever since Bezalel Smotrich has taken over as Finance Minister, and even more so after October 7, 2023, when various PA officials cheered the Hamas atrocities and vowed to carry out their own version against the Jews of Judea and Samaria, that source of income has been severely curtailed.


Smotrich has been cutting from the transferred revenues the amounts the PA pays out in salaries and grants to terrorists serving time in Israeli security prisons, and the families of dead terrorists who had been cut down while killing or attempting to kill Israelis. But in view of statements from PLO bigwigs such as Jibril Rajoub, who promised another October 7, Smotrich decided to keep everything as long as the PA folks aren’t behaving.

“Israel has distorted this arrangement into yet another tool of occupation of equal importance and value to them as the Israel Defense Forces,” Shoukry Bishara told the FT, warning, “I do not want to be a prophet of doom – but unless there is a major breakthrough, then we will have to stop and reconsider everything. … I would say the time horizon is the next two to three weeks.”

On January 10, the PA’s foreign ministry condemned “the extremist Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich” who “once again rejected a request by the US to transfer clearance funds to the Palestinian Authority.”

The Ministry declared that Smotrich “has no right and does not have any authority to interfere with the funds of the Palestinian people and the ways in which they are spent, except by way of further stealing and pirating them, noting that he also steals and occupies the land of the Palestinian people, confiscates their dignity and rights, and kidnaps the lives of their generations and their future.”

The ministry then suggested that if “the US administration cannot yet force Israel to transfer the clearance fund of the Palestinian people, how can it force it to protect civilians, revive the peace process, and recognize a state for the Palestinian people?’

Well, they try. Recently, the US Treasury was prompted by the Biden administration to impose sanctions on Israeli settlers who have been accused by anti-Israel NGOs of committing violence against PA Arabs – but have yet to be convicted on any charges. Meanwhile, one wonders when we’ll see sanctions against the 25,000 PA Arabs who have been involved in all manner of violence against Jews in Judea and Samaria, as was meticulously recorded by the IDF.

According to Bishara, on top of all the previous cuts, in November and December Smotrich started to deduct NIS 600 million ($164 million) each month from the NIS 750 million ($207 million) in revenues to be paid out in salaries and pensions to PA officials in Gaza. The rationale was that people who support the massacres of Jews are not entitled to money care of the Jewish State.

Bishara claims the total amount deducted in 2023 amounted to 25% of the PA’s revenues, and complained, “I do not know of a single entity that is a non-petrodollar entity that can survive with this sort and magnitude of abusive deductions. We are talking about approximately $1.5 billion of cash siphoned away from the Palestinian economy in 2023.”

Here’s an idea: why not stop paying terrorists and their families a quarter of your annual revenues?

Throughout the report, the FT does not offer a single explanation as to why Smotrich is withholding those funds, other than that he is an “extremist.” They also did not question Bishara’s statement that if Israel continued to withhold the funds, the PA would be forced to reduce the salaries of some 144,000 public employees – except for those terrorists behind bars and the families of dead terrorists. They got paid fully, while everyone else on the PA’s payroll received only 60% of their salaries.

In addition to the cut revenues from taxes and customs, the PA’s economy has suffered from a severe slowdown in Israeli shopping – it appears many Israelis are reluctant to be shot, run over, stabbed, or stoned, as has been the fate of a few shoppers from the other side of the Green Line who came looking for a bargain. Also, PA Arab workers are no longer welcome in Israel, for the same Israeli reluctance to be murdered.

In December, the International Labor Organization estimated that 32% of employment in the PA, or 276,000 jobs, had been eroded since October 7, 2023. The organization estimated the PA’s economic setbacks at $500 million per month in October and November.

Turns out that if you kill Jews it’s going to cost you.

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