(August 10, 2020 / JNS) Lawmakers from across Israel’s political spectrum have called on the country’s defense minister, Benny Gantz, to declare the Palestinian Authority’s Prisoners’ Affairs Administration a terrorist organization. The Prisoners’ Affairs Administration plays a central role in the paying of salaries to terrorists serving sentences in Israeli prisons, as well as to the families of deceased terrorists.
“I call on you to add the Palestinian Prisoners’ Affairs Administration to the List of Declared Prohibited and Terror Organizations. It is an organization whose very nature is to support terror, to which we should show zero tolerance,” wrote Knesset member Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid-Telem) in a letter to Gantz.
Knesset member Oded Forer (Yisrael Beiteinu) said “the outlawing of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Affairs Administration would demonstrate the reality that it is not about rehabilitation but about bringing more and more Palestinians into the circle of terrorism. The prime minister and the defense minister must act immediately to stop the transfer of benefits to the families of the terrorists and then ensure that the Palestinian Prisoners’ Affairs Administration be declared an illegal terrorist organization.”
MK Matan Kahana (Yamina) also called on Gantz to outlaw the Prisoners’ Affairs Administration, saying “the next necessary step, as recently recommended to U.S. President [Donald] Trump by Congressman Doug Lamborn, is to impose personal sanctions on public figures in the Palestinian Authority and the PLO involved in terrorist payments, as also stipulated in Israeli law.”
Israel could not remain silent when others were acting against this phenomenon, he said.
“It should not be, that while other nations around the world, especially our friend the United States, are making efforts to eradicate this phenomenon of terror payments, Israel will continue to keep quiet.”
Kahana was referring to a letter sent last week by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) to President Trump calling on him to place the P.A. Prisoners’ Affairs Administration and its director, Qadri Abu Bakr, on the U.S. administration’s list of designated terrorist entities and persons.
Nave Dromi, director of the Middle East Forum’s Israel office, which was behind the initiative and sent letters to the 120 MKs calling on them to support this step, said: “I thank the members of Knesset from various parties for joining this initiative seeking to impose sanctions on P.A. institutions involved in transferring salaries to terrorists. This is an important step that will work to correct this injustice and save lives. These payments are the economic incentivization of Palestinian violent rejectionism and terror and until this is defeated, and Israel achieves victory, the conflict will not end.”
Dromi’s letter was co-signed by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW); Choosing Life, an organization representing bereaved families who have lost loved ones in terrorist attacks; Habitchonistim and Mivtachi Yisrael, two organizations representing senior former IDF officers; the IDF Disabled Soldiers Forum; The International Legal Forum; Shurat HaDin; The Kohelet Policy Forum; and Lavie–The Forum for Improved Administration.
Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch, whose report on the P.A. Prisoners’ Affairs Administration prompted Lamborn’s letter to Trump, welcomed the initiative, which he said was an important one.
“One of the great oversights in Israel’s war on terror has been to ignore the involvement of the P.A. leaders and infrastructures they control,” he said. “The immunity from political consequences has been interpreted by P.A. leaders as a green light to launch terror waves whenever they deem it politically expedient. Targeting the P.A. institution that finances and rewards P.A. terror will send an important message to the international community and especially to the P.A. that no one involved in terror will have immunity.”
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