Israel thawed hundreds of millions of shekels that were supposed to be deducted, by law, from the taxes and customs collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority to avoid having this money go to jailed terrorists’ salaries, Palestinian Media Watch reported. The report is based on the analysis of an official report the PA sent to Western countries.
According to the report by Attorney Maurice Hirsch, last September, shortly after the August meeting in Ramallah between Defense Minister Benny Gantz and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Israel transferred NIS 500 million ($170 million) to the PA in addition to the taxes and customs Israel collects and transfers every month.
Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories argued that the NIS 500 million is a loan based on future collections, so, in a way, the half-billion shekels did not come “from the public coffers of the Israeli taxpayer.”
So, first off, that’s not true, the loan certainly did come from the Israeli taxpayer, even if it will be paid back someday.
But worse, the loan violated the 2018 Freeze Terrorist Funds Act which compels the Defense Minister to submit every year to the Political-Security Cabinet a report detailing the total amount of money paid in the past year by the Palestinian Authority to terrorists behind bars in Israel and their families, so that in the following year, an amount equal to 1/12 of it would be deducted every month from the taxes and customs earned by the Palestinian Authority.
But wait, it gets much worse. In recent days, the Palestinian Authority has released its budget execution report for September 2021, in English. The report is published as part of the PA’s commitments to its donor nations and the international community for the sake of budgetary transparency.
According to the report, in September alone, Israel transferred a total of NIS 1.77 billion ($569 million) to the PA.
Now, the PA mentions the additional half a billion shekels from Israel, but it defines 400 million shekels of this amount as money that’s owed the PA from previous months. In other words, 4/5 of the money is compensation for the deductions of shahids’ salaries which is a debt Israel owed the PA and not an advance against future collections.
Only NIS 100 million are referred to in the report as an advance against future collection. Or, to put it bluntly: the PA states in its official report that it has no plans to return to Israel 80% of the half-billion shekels Gantz gifted them.
By the way, this should not have come as news to Gantz: at the end of his meeting with Chairman Abbas, the Palestinian Authority claimed that the Defense Minister had agreed to return “part of our money which is held by Israel” – meaning they did not see it as a loan, but instead the correction of an injustice.
According to the PMW, in addition to paying back the shahids’ salaries, Gantz also consented to a significant increase in the right of return for PA Arabs into Israel, from the current 5,000 that was allowed by the Interior Ministry, to 40,000. There’s also an amendment of the Oslo Accord that would allow the PA to collect taxes on fuel purchased by PA Arabs in Israel.
Also, Gantz was apparently extremely generous with promises of future Arab construction in Area C. And he also reportedly gave his consent to installing G4 communications inside the PA.
Perhaps Defense Minister Gantz could be half as generous with the Jews of Judea and Samaria?