Opinion

The PA has lost a billion shekels due to its terror-reward policy

While combating the P.A.’s “Pay-for-Slay” payments is not simple, and will take time, it is nonetheless a moral imperative.

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, Aug. 18, 2020. Photo by Flash90.
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, Aug. 18, 2020. Photo by Flash90.
Lt. Col. (res.) Maurice Hirsch
Lt. Col. (res.) Maurice Hirsch is the director of the Initiative for Palestinian Authority Accountability and Reform in the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs; a senior legal analyst for Human Rights Voices; and a member of the Israel Defense and Security Forum.

Saturday, July 3 marked three years since Israel adopted the “Law to freeze money that the Palestinian Authority has paid in connection with terrorism from the money transferred to it by the government of Israel, 2018”—popularly known as Israel’s “Anti-Pay-for-Slay” law.

In a nutshell, the law provides that every year the defense minister is to present a report to the Security Cabinet in which he details how much the Palestinian Authority spent in the previous year in financial rewards to imprisoned terrorists, released terrorists, wounded terrorists and the families of dead terrorists—collectively known as the P.A.’s ”Pay-for-Slay” payments. Once approved, that sum is then deducted, in 12 installments, from the tax revenues that Israel agreed to waive in favor of the P.A. as part of the Oslo Accords.

Since passed, the Security Cabinet has approved three of the four reports submitted by the defense minister (the approval of the fourth is pending). Over one billion shekels have been deducted from the tax revenues to date.

The first decision to implement the law was made by the Security Cabinet in February 2019, shortly after the murder of Ori Ansbacher. In that decision, the Security Cabinet decided to deduct a sum of approximately 502 million shekels ($138,572,080 at the time of the decision)—the sum Palestinian Media Watch exposed as reflecting the P.A.’s payments to the terrorist prisoners and released prisoners in 2018. In the decision, the Security Cabinet instructed the defense minister to present an additional report regarding the P.A.’s payments in 2018 to the wounded terrorists and the families of dead terrorists.

The second decision to implement the law was made in December 2019. On this occasion, the Security Cabinet approved the deduction of approximately 149 million shekels ($43,148,910 at the time of the decision).

The third decision to implement the law was taken at the end of November 2020. In that decision, the Security Cabinet approved the deduction of 609 million shekels ($183,796,200 at the time of the decision). This sum was meant to have been divided into 12 parts, each just over 50 million shekels, and deducted at the end of each month starting with the end of December.

Accordingly, adding these figures together gives a total of just over one billion shekels.

Israel was not alone in passing legislation to combat the P.A.’s “Pay-for-Slay” payments. The March prior to the passage of the Israeli law, the United States adopted the Taylor Force Act, which conditions U.S. aid to the P.A. on the complete abolition of the “Pay-for-Slay” policy, including, inter alia, the 2004 P.A. Law of Prisoners and Released Prisoners and regulations adopted pursuant to the law. When given the choice of receiving U.S. aid or continuing to reward terrorists, the P.A. chose the latter.

Indeed, despite the deductions and while aware of the consequences, the P.A. has made the positive decision to give precedence to continue paying the terror rewards, while ignoring the suicidal financial constraints. As PMW recently exposed, P.A. TV is repeatedly airing a video of P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas in which he declares that even if the P.A. is left with only a single penny, he will pay it to the terrorists:

“A blessing is sent to our loyal martyrs, our prisoners and their families who are standing firm and bearing their suffering with patience. We say to them, to the families of the martyrs, that we will defend their rights regardless of the price we’ll have to pay. I won’t submit to what Israel has requested. I won’t submit. Even if I’m left with one penny, I’ll pay it to the families of the martyrs, to the prisoners, and to the wounded, and I won’t withhold this from them.”

While combating the P.A.’s “Pay-for-Slay” payments is not simple, and will take time, it is nonetheless a moral imperative. Slowly but surely, Israeli’s Anti-Pay-for-Slay law, together with the Taylor Force Act and other measures, some of which have already been adopted, will make a difference, and the P.A. will be forced to abolish its policy of rewarding terror or face the consequences.

IDF Lt. Col. (res.) Maurice Hirsch is the director of Legal Strategies for Palestinian Media Watch. He served for 19 years in the IDF Military Advocate General Corps. In his last position, he served as director of the Military Prosecution in Judea and Samaria.

This article was first published by Palestinian Media Watch.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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