Law Would Withhold Import Duty Money Over PA Terrorist Payments

YERUSHALAYIM -
MK Elazar Stern. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Ministerial Law Committee is set to consider Sunday a bill that would deduct from tax and import duty payments to the Palestinian Authority the amount of money the PA pays families of terrorists. The bill, proposed by MK Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid), has widespread support in the coalition, including that of MK David Bitan (Likud), coalition chair.

Despite that support, government officials said there was a good chance the Committee would postpone voting on the bill, as legal issues still needed to be worked out. In particular, State Attorney Avichai Mandelblit is said to be seeking a clarification of some of the language of the law, and supporters of the bill want to wrap that issue up and put the bill on a fast track to final approval.

Israel collects tax and duty payments on behalf of the Palestinian Authority for imported goods that enter the country via Ashdod Port. The goods are then transferred to PA-controlled areas, and the collected fees are transferred as well. Under Stern’s bill, Israel would withhold payment of the fees due to the PA in the same amount that the Authority distributes to the families of terrorists held in Israeli prisons. The figure is easy to compute, as Israel knows which terrorists qualify for payments, and how much each of their acts of terror is worth to the PA.

“It is time to put an end to the phenomenon of terrorists and their families getting paid by the PA for the murder of Israelis,” Stern wrote in a letter to ministers. “We cannot accept a situation where terrorists get a salary for killing Jews. This is one way for us to fight terror, and I see this law as critical for the security of Israel.”

A letter signed by family members of 180 victims of terror demanding that the government support the bill was sent to ministers Sunday. In the letter, the family members point out how many terrorists return to their old ways when they are released from prison, and how the high payments the families receive act as an incentive to encourage more terrorism. “How can a government which constantly decries Palestinian incitement continue to forward money directly to the pockets of terrorists as a matter of course? Should we continue to help the PA fund terrorism?” The letter concludes with a demand that the law be passed as soon as possible, and that families would “remember” those who failed to support it.