After a weekend announcement by the United States that it was cutting off all aid to the Palestinian Authority, Israel, which provides the bulk of aid to the PA, is set to significantly cut that aid. Yisrael Hayom reported that the Security Cabinet would vote to cut tens of millions of shekels of Israeli money sent to the PA, as much of it was going to pay terrorists.
The cuts will be made in the context of a law passed last summer by the Knesset that requires the Defense Ministry to report to the government on how much money it provides the PA. The law was sponsored by MKs Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid) and Avi Dichter (Likud). Under the law, the government has the option of deducting from that money the amounts the PA provides terrorists and their families. The Ministry has been working in recent weeks to corroborate data on those payments.
Last week, Yisrael Hayom published an official PA document that shows terrorists receiving NIS 502 million in payments, either directly to them or their families. That does not include “pension monies” the PA pays to families whose members were killed in the course of committing a terror attack.
PA sources quoted in the story said that the Authority has no intention of withholding or slowing down payments to terrorists, despite the action by the U.S. and the prospective cut by Israel. They warned that the cuts would have a “negative impact” and “increase instability,” but in response, U.S. negotiator Jason Greenblatt said that “threats about increasing instability if the PA doesn’t get what it wants (in this case money) are also tiresome, not just to the U.S., but to most countries around the world that I’ve spoken to in the past two years.”
The report said that while ministers said there would be a cut in funds, they have not decided yet how much to withhold. The Finance Ministry, which is responsible for the transfer of funds, said in a statement that “the gathering of data [on terrorist payments] is still ongoing, and requires deep study and corroboration among several government ministries. When the final report is ready it will be presented to the Cabinet, as required by law.”