Israel forwarded its first trimmed-down tax revenue payment to the Palestinian Authority Monday – with NIS 42 million of the funds due held back in line with a new Israeli law that requires some NIS 500 million to be held back throughout 2019. That is the sum the government has determined the Palestinian Authority is paying terrorists in Israeli prisons, and the families of terrorists killed in the course of carrying out attacks.
According to a law that went into effect at the beginning of the year, Israel will no longer abet these payments from money Israel collects in duties on behalf of the PA as part of the Paris economic agreements with the Authority, and any money that is owed the PA will be deducted so that the Authority will have fewer funds to pay terrorists with. Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon on Sunday signed the first withholding order. “I do not believe we should be giving prizes to terrorists,” Kahlon said. “This is an important effort in our just struggle against Palestinian terror. We have national pride and there is also justice in the world. We cannot ignore that this money will be used to pay terrorists and their families.”
In February, 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 chief Mahmoud Abbas’s office reacted angrily to the decision to withhold the payments. “This is an outrageous decision that will completely destroy our agreements with Israel. This decision will harm the economic development of the PA,” Abbas’s office said in a statement. With that, the PA will not stop its payments to terrorists. “We will not do business with our rights,” it said. “The deduction of money is robbery of money that belongs to the Palestinian people. We will not allow any harm to the income of our heroes and the families of the martyrs and the injured. This decision will have implications on many levels. We will consider it in the next meeting of the Palestinian leadership in the coming days,” it added.
After the Cabinet decided on the cuts in February, the PA announced that it would refuse to accept any money from Israel if it did not get the full amount it claims it is entitled to. At a meeting with a delegation from the far left J Street group, Abbas said that “even if we had just a small amount of money, NIS 20 or 30 million, our priority would be paying” the terrorists and their families. “We don’t need Israel’s money,” he said.