The Knesset definitively ended indirect Israeli funding for payments by the Palestinian Authority to imprisoned terrorists and their families, requiring the state to deduct the amount the PA allocates for the stipends from tax money collected on its behalf by Israeli authorities.
The law, which passed by a final vote of 87 to 15 on Monday night, requires the state to withhold the funds, and gives it no leeway in determining its application. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had sought flexibility, authorizing the security cabinet to determine whether the tax monies should be withheld, taking security and political factors into consideration. However, the Knesset rejected the move, which it was argued would effectively negate the law, since it would mean the government could suspend it at any time.
Once implemented, it will mean hundreds of millions of shekels from tax revenues that will not be transferred to the PA. Instead, the money will be used to assist victims of terror.
According to the Defense Ministry, the PA in 2017 paid NIS 687 million ($198 million) to the so-called “martyrs’ families fund,” and NIS 550 million ($160 million) to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club — some 7 percent of its overall budget.
Palestinian prisoners serving 20- to 30-year sentences for carrying out terror attacks are eligible for a lifetime NIS 10,000 ($2,772) monthly stipend, the Defense Ministry said, citing PA figures. Those prisoners who receive a three- to five-year sentence get a monthly wage of NIS 2,000 ($554). Palestinian prisoners who are married, have children, live in Yerushalayim, or hold Israeli citizenship receive additional payments.
Yesh Atid MK Elazar Stern, a co-sponsor, said similar legislation in the U.S., known as the Tayor Force Act, had inspired the Israeli bill.
“We must stop the economic inventive the Palestinian Authority provides to terrorists, an incentive that encourages others to commit terror,” said Stern. “Every Palestinian youth will understand it doesn’t pay to choose the path of terror.”