(February 18, 2019 / JNS) Israel’s Security Cabinet approved the implementation of a law on Sunday to deduct funds from tax revenue withheld from the Palestinian Authority over its payments to terrorists and their families.
The move would deduct funds equal to the amount the P.A. spent to support terrorists and their families in 2018. The Israeli decision did not, however, include deducting funds equal to the amount the P.A. spends on so-called “martyrs,” experts noted.
Member of Knesset Elazar Stern, one of the sponsors of the bill passed in July requiring the government to deduct such payments, told JNS that he supported the Security Cabinet’s decision.
“I commend the Cabinet on its decision to finally approve the law that I initiated and led together with MK Avi Dichter and deduct terror salaries. I have no doubt that, ultimately, the implementation of the law will drastically reduce the incentive for terrorism and the number of terror attacks.”
The decision by the Security Cabinet comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had come under increasing pressure to implement the law following the brutal murder of Israeli teen Ori Ansbacher by a Palestinian terrorist earlier this month.
According to reports, the $138 million is likely be deducted over a 12-month period.
Ahmed Majdalani, a senior official in the Palestine Liberation Organization, accused Israel as well as the United States, which passed a similar law earlier in 2018 known as the Taylor Force Act, of blackmail.
“The occupation government is seeking to destroy the national authority in partnership with the U.S. administration of Donald Trump,” Majdalani said in a statement.
Decision does not include deductions for Palestinian martyr payments
According to Maurice Hirsch, head of legal strategies for Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), “We welcome the decision of the government as a great start.”
However, Hirsch emphasized that the government only deducted the payments to terrorist prisoners and released prisoners. The government “did not touch at this point the P.A. payments to the families of dead or wounded terrorists,” he noted. “Our (PMW) estimate is that the sum paid to the dead terrorists alone, without the wounded, is over $63 million.”
Hirsch added, “It is just a shame that the Ministry of Defense didn’t use the last six months since the law passed in order to calculate the amount the P.A. pays to the families of the dead and wounded terrorists.”
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu “instructed security officials to step up checks on additional Palestinian Authority payments linked to terrorism, including those to terrorists and their families. The amount frozen will be updated as per the information received.”
Sander Gerber, CEO of Hudson Bay Capital Management who has been raising awareness about the Palestinian Authority’s “pay to slay” policy for a number of years now, told JNS that “as the P.A. struggles with the moral dilemma to pay a prisoner who is both a killer and a rapist, it is an achievement that the State of Israel has the clarity to implement a law passed eight months ago to reduce money transfers equivalent to the amount the P.A. pays prisoners. We can only hope that the martyr program will not be overlooked by the government.”
Shai Maimon, a victim of terror and heavily involved in advancing this law against terror funding, told JNS, “I am very happy that the government has come to terms with the law that it passed in the last Knesset. We are witnessing history in the making.”
He, too, was disappointed that the Security Cabinet did not approve offsetting the complete amount of funding. “This is only half of the amount that the P.A. transfers to terrorists and their families, and therefore the government must continue to demand that the entire amount be offset in the future.”