Photo Credit: Ehud Amiton / TPS
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas

by Aryeh Savir

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has rejected Israel’s decision to withhold tax transfers from Israel to the PA to offset salaries paid by Ramallah to terrorists and their families, saying it was “piracy of the Palestinian people’s money.”

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Israel’s Security Cabinet on Sunday evening decided to implement the new Deduction Law that freezes PA funds as approved by the Knesset in July 2018, and to deduct NIS 502,697,000 ($138 million) from the funds designated for transfer to the PA by the State of Israel.

The terrorist stipends are paid out by the Palestinian Authority government to terrorists and their families in varying amounts in accordance with the crime and sentence; the more violent and lethal the attack, the higher the monthly stipend.

Security officials presented data to the effect that in 2018, the PA transferred some half a billion shekels to terrorists imprisoned in Israel and their families and to released prisoners. Therefore, it was decided to freeze the same amount of funds from the tax revenues that Israel collects for the PA.

Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed security officials to step up checks on additional PA payments linked to terrorism, including those to terrorists and their families. The amount frozen will be updated per the information received, according to a communique issued by the Security Cabinet.

Responding to the Israeli move, PA head Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said in a statement that the PA “will not accept any harm to the livelihood of our imprisoned heroes and the families of Shahids (martyrs) and wounded,” relating to terrorists killed or wounded while committing attacks.

“We consider this arbitrary Israeli decision to be a one-sided blow to the signed agreements, including the Paris Protocols,” he said. The Paris Accords dictate the economic relations between Israel and the PA.

Abu Rudeineh threatened that this decision will have “serious repercussions at all levels and will be given a priority at the meeting of the leadership …[in] the coming days.”

However, Israeli officials welcomed the move.

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon said in a statement Sunday night, “No country in the world should pay the vile terrorists that murder its people. The blood money the PA gives to terrorists reflects its culture of terror and incitement. We will continue to work with the international community against the financial industry that funds murderers and encourages further attacks.”

Member of Knesset Avi Dichter, who co-sponsored the law, said, “The party is over! The law will make it clear to the Palestinian Authority and to Abu Mazen (Abbas): Paying salaries to terrorists and murderers – it does not pay!”

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said that “as long is Abu-Mazen takes pride in the payments to the terrorists the State of Israel should cut every shekel, which provides security to terrorism.”

MK Elazar Stern, who co-sponsored the law, said he is “confident that the implementation of the law will significantly reduce the incentives for terrorism as well as the number of terror attacks.”

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