At the request of Kuwait, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) will discuss the decision of the Israeli government to stop providing the Palestinian Authority with the funds it then uses to pay financial rewards to Palestinian terrorists who murdered Israelis, attempted to murder Israelis or were otherwise involved in terrorism against Israel and Israelis.
A fundamental stipulation and Palestinian commitment of the Oslo peace process was to abandon the use of violence as a means to achieve the Palestinian goal of self-determination.
This commitment included the provision that “both sides shall take all measures necessary in order to prevent acts of terrorism, crime and hostilities directed against each other” (Art. 25 of the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip); that each side will “actively prevent incitement to violence, including violence against the other side or persons under the authority of the other side;” and “apprehend, investigate and prosecute perpetrators and all other persons directly or indirectly involved in acts of terrorism, violence and incitement” (Art. 2 of Annex 1).
In order to provide the P.A. with the financial means with which to meet its obligations, Israel agreed to collect a range of different taxes—predominantly import taxes—on behalf of the P.A.
In breach of its commitments, the P.A. not only plays an active role in inciting terrorism, but also pays considerable financial rewards to imprisoned and released terrorists, wounded terrorists and the families of dead terrorists, who the P.A. refers to as “martyrs.” These payments are now collectively known as the P.A.’s “Pay for slay” program.
While the P.A. has paid financial rewards to Palestinian terrorists since its creation, in the last 15 years the payments to the terrorist prisoners and released prisoners became entrenched in P.A. law.
The 2004 Palestinian Authority Law of Prisoners and Released Prisoners stipulates that “the prisoners and released prisoners are a fighting sector, and an inseparable part of the Palestinian society” and that the P.A. “will not sign and will not participate in the signing of a peace agreement for a solution of the Palestinian problem without the release of all the prisoners.” The law adds the P.A. requirement to pay monthly salaries to the terrorist prisoners and released prisoners.
Since the passage of the P.A. law, the monthly amounts that the Authority pays to the imprisoned and released terrorists, wounded terrorists and the families of dead terrorists have risen greatly. In some instances, the increase was as much as 300 percent, providing terrorist murderers with a monthly salary equivalent to that of a P.A. minister.
The P.A. funds these payments from the tax monies Israel collects, which, on average, reach 670 million shekels per month and account for 50 percent of the P.A.’s annual budget.
In 2018 alone, the P.A. budgeted 550 million shekels to fund the payment of the salaries to the terrorist prisoners and released prisoners. It budgeted an additional 687 million shekels from which it pays the wounded terrorists and the families of the dead terrorists.
In July 2018, after lengthy discussions, Israel’s parliament adopted legislation to combat the P.A.’s use of the funds Israel provides to incentivize and reward Palestinian terrorists.
According to the legislation, the Israeli Defense Ministry each year will calculate how much the P.A. has spent to pay terrorist prisoners and families of so-called “martyrs,” and this will be deducted from the money Israel collects in taxes on behalf of the P.A. in 12 equal monthly parts. The legislation further provides that if the P.A. stops paying the financial rewards to the terrorists, Israel will transfer any monies withheld according to the provisions of the law.
As 2019 started, and in the aftermath of the brutal rape and murder of Israeli Ori Ansbacher by a Palestinian terrorist, Israel’s government partially met the requirement of the new Israeli law.
In deciding the amount to deduct, the Israeli government relied, it would appear, almost exclusively on the P.A.’s own budget performance report, in which it admitted that in 2018 it spent 502 million shekels to pay the salaries to the terrorists.
In the absence of finalized figures, the Israeli government decided not to make any deduction for the P.A.’s payments to the wounded terrorists and the families of dead terrorists.
If U.N. history is anything to go by, the Kuwait-initiated UNSC debate will no doubt result in the condemnation of Israel. How dare the Jewish state stop providing the Palestinian Authority with the funds it uses to incentivize and reward Palestinian terrorists who target Jews!?
If the UNSC had any moral fiber, instead of discussing the Israeli response to the “Pay for slay” program, it would join the United States, Holland, Australia, Sweden, Norway and other countries, and condemn the P.A. policy.
Lt. Col. (res) Maurice Hirsch is the Head of Legal Strategies for Palestinian Media Watch (PMW). 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.
PMW is an independent Israeli research institute founded in 1996 that studies the totality of Palestinian Authority messages to its people, disseminated through legislation, media, culture, sports and education.
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