Is the Israeli government financing terrorism against its own citizens? Did Minister of Defense Benny Gantz break the law when he transferred “advance payments” and “loans” to the Palestinian Authority (PA) earlier this year?
These were some of the questions posed to Gantz and Minister of Finance Avigdor Liberman by the Litigation Department of the Kohelet Policy Forum two months ago, which received a response it termed as “worrying.”
According to Israeli law, any payments made by Israel to the Palestinian Authority must deduct the amount that the PA paid in the previous year to terrorists or their families. These payments, known colloquially as “Pay for Slay” are fixed pensions paid by the PA to terrorists, including Arabs with Israeli citizenship, as direct compensation for the murder of Jews.
The amount of the payment is determined by the number of people killed in the attack and the severity of the terrorist’s sentence. A murderer or his family can receive a stipend five times the average salary in the PA.
After months of silence, the Ministry of Finance sent a “cryptic response” to the Kohelet Forum stating that “it had made a deduction in accordance with the law”. However, it did not explain how the “advance payments” and “loans” conform to the law, and offered no legal source that could justify them.
“As Israel faces another wave of terror, it is preposterous to see our own government appearing to skirt Israeli law to send hush money to the Palestinian Authority,” said Ariel Erlich, Director of the Litigation Department at the Kohelet Policy Forum, calling on the government to “explain how Gantz could transfer funds to the Palestinians, while they continue Pay for Slay.”
Professor Eugene Kontorovich, Director of the International Law Department at the Kohelet Forum, explained that “one of Israel’s greatest diplomatic achievements was the United States passing of the Taylor Force Act, which bans US money from going to the Palestinian Authority while they maintain Pay for Slay.”
“When Israel breaks its own law to the same effect, it undermines this pillar of American support for Israel,” he cautioned.
The Palestinian Media Watch watchdog estimates that in 2021 the Palestinian Authority (PA) spent NIS 841 million ($270.75 m.) paying rewards to terrorists. NIS million shekels ($193.16 m.) were paid to imprisoned terrorists and released terrorists, and at least another NIS 241 million ($77.59 m.) were paid to wounded terrorists and the families of dead terrorists.
Israel has warned that these payments are an incentive for terrorism.
The PA’s policy has been widely condemned, with Canada, the US, Australia, and Holland halting direct aid to the PA until the policy is abolished, but the PA has vowed to proceed with the policy it claims is a form of welfare.