According to the spokesman for the Palestinian Authority’s Finance Ministry Abdel Rahman Bayatna, Israel deducted the “unprecedented amount” of NIS 276 million ($81 million) from the tax and customs it collected on the PA’s behalf, under the law offsetting the sums the PA pays out to terrorists behind bars in Israel and the families of dead terrorists from the collected money.
Bayatna told Sanad News that this month’s deduction was the result of “the doubling of the deduction on the funds that the authority pays the families of the martyrs, the wounded, and the prisoners.” The spokesman stressed that “this is an illegal step that will lead to a situation in which the Palestinian Authority will not be able to pay its workers’ wages in full for more than a year.”
The PA payments to terrorists and their families are enshrined in the PA constitution, according to which the PA grants a salary or allowances to terrorists, security prisoners arrested and imprisoned in Israel over “Palestinian terrorist acts,” or monthly support to their families, in the event that the terrorist himself is killed.
In its March 2018 budget, out of the overall NIS 1.4 billion ($410 million), 7%, or $28.7 million is used to pay terrorist salaries.
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich announced the deduction, saying, “Yesterday, for the first time, I signed a double offset of the terrorist funds that the Palestinian Authority transfers to the families of terrorists. We cut the Palestinian Authority’s payment by NIS 100 million, instead of 50 million which was the case to date, plus another NIS 200,000 that will go as compensation to the families of victims of terrorism, according to a court ruling. The PA funds terrorists but the State of Israel says, No more. The citizens of Israel will not be part of this farce.”
In July 2018, Australia stopped the funding of $7.5 million (USD) it sent to the Palestinian Authority through the World Bank and instead it is sending it to the United Nations Fund for the Palestinian Territories. The official reason was Canberra’s reluctance to help the PA pay terrorists behind bars.
In November 2019, the Netherlands eliminated the annual $1.5 million it used to pay directly to the Palestinian Authority, saying it no longer wished to help pay the families of killed, wounded, or imprisoned terrorists.
PA media noted that this is the first time an Israeli finance minister signs a double deduction of NIS 100 million, and not NIS 50 million, as was customary until now. They also mentioned that on January 8, Smotrich announced the confiscation of NIS 139 million from the Palestinian Authority’s funds.
Meanwhile, when God closes a door, the devil opens a window: in a signing ceremony in Ramallah on Thursday, the European Union announced its 2023 financial assistance package for the PA, to the tune of €296 million ($322 million). The ceremony was attended by Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
Here’s the punch line: “Of the total package, the EU said €199.2 ($217 million) million will be allotted to support the Palestinian Authority’s expenditures for social allowances, medical referrals, salaries, and pensions, and projects in the occupied Palestinian territory, in addition to EU-funded projects in East Jerusalem.”
Balance has been restored…