update deskIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

Smotrich to transfer $35m in PA funds to families of terror victims

Some families had been waiting for 20 years, despite courts ruling the Palestinian Authority was responsible for their loved ones' deaths.

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich speaks during a press conference at the Ministry of Finance in Jerusalem on Aug. 9, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.
Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich speaks during a press conference at the Ministry of Finance in Jerusalem on Aug. 9, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has ordered his office to deduct 130 million shekels ($35 million) from tax and tariff revenue collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority and redirect it to families of terror victims.

The monies will be transferred to 28 families who have won lawsuits against the P.A. over its financial backing of attacks against Israelis, Smotrich, who is also the leader of the Religious Zionism Party, told Arutz 7 on Thursday.

“This week, I signed an order to transfer millions of shekels to the families of terror victims,” he said. “The Palestinian Authority continues to tell the world that it is on the verge of collapse and continues paying the families of terrorists and transferring money for terror.

“The minimum of the minimum [we can do] is to transfer compensation to the families of terror victims from these funds,” added the minister.

Smotrich’s decision puts an end to years of delay on the part of the government. In some cases, families had been waiting to receive the funds for 20 years, despite Israeli courts ruling that the Palestinian Authority was responsible for their loved ones’ deaths.

The newspaper noted that in addition to the 28 families expected to be compensated this week, hundreds of other lawsuits are still pending.

Jerusalem collects 600 million-700 million shekels ($161 million-$188 million) in tax funds on behalf of the P.A. every month under the terms of the Oslo Accords, signed with the PLO in the 1990s.

The Protocol on Economic Relations, aka the Paris Protocol, was signed in April 1994 and incorporated with minor changes into the Oslo II Accord of September 1995.

Almost one billion shekels ($278 million) in yearly tax revenue that Israel collects on behalf of the P.A. goes towards its “pay for slay” policy, under which it disburses monthly stipends to terrorists and their relatives.

In 2018, lawmakers from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud Party initiated and promoted legislation to offset the sum to put pressure on the Palestinian Authority to stop rewarding terrorism.

Smotrich’s decision to transfer the funds joins a series of steps taken by the finance minister to punish the Palestinian Authority for its support of terrorism and diplomatic measures against the Jewish state.

Last month, he announced his intention to immediately halt the transfer of all tax revenue to the P.A. following its push for statehood and support for the International Criminal Court case against Israel.

“The Palestinians are working against Israel with political terrorism and promoting unilateral measures around the world—I cannot continue to transfer funds to them. If this causes the P.A. to collapse, let it collapse,” Smotrich said.

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