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Israel to withhold 600 million shekels from PA for payments to terrorist families

Israel to withhold 600 million shekels from PA for payments to terrorist families
Written by boustamohamed31

The security cabinet voted to withhold more than half a billion shekels from the Palestinian Authority on Sunday to offset funds the PA has paid to terrorists and their families over the past year.

The NIS 600 million ($176 million) the government voted to freeze will come from tax funds that Israel collects on behalf of the PA.

According to Kan news, NIS 600 million will be deducted in monthly installments next year.

In 2018, Israel passed a law requiring the government to withhold the equivalent amount of money the PA is expected to pay to Palestinian terrorists and their families. Although required by law, the security cabinet must periodically vote to approve the move.

Although popular among Israelis who oppose the PA’s so-called “pay-to-kill” system that fuels terrorism, the law is seen as potentially destabilizing for the perennially cash-strapped Palestinian Authority. Israel has offered in the past loans to Palestinians to keep the BCP afloat and prevent it from completely disintegrating.

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz of the dovish Meretz party abstained from Sunday’s vote, according to Kahn, who cited sources saying he opposed the measure.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid (right) and Deputy Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on July 31, 2022. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)

Israel has long accused the Palestinian Authority of promoting terrorism and militancy by publicly honoring attackers and paying stipends to their families if they are killed or imprisoned in Israeli prisons.

Labor leader Merav Michaeli is reported to have told the cabinet that the Palestinian Authority is ready to stop these payments, which are not only deeply unpopular in Israel but also in the United States and Europe, which see them as encouraging terror.

“I know the PA is ready to stop payments to the terrorists and their families, so we can stop with these compensatory measures,” Michaeli said, according to an unsourced Channel 13 report.

Alternative Prime Minister Naftali Bennett responded: “If they want to stop the payments, they should stop. There’s nothing to talk about.

Michaeli insisted they were ready, but such a move by the PA was dependent on peace talks.

“I know they are ready. We need to have diplomatic talks with them and this will be part of them,” she said.

The cabinet’s decision immediately drew criticism from the Palestinian Authority, who called it a “financial blockade” of the Palestinian economy. PA representatives have similarly opposed this Israeli policy in the past.

“The occupation government continues its monetary piracy over the funds of the Palestinians and decides to deduct hundreds of millions of shekels to further implement the policy of financial blockade and steal our money in a step that contributes to the daily escalation in our cities, villages and camps and the legalization of our bloodshed,” said Hussein al-Sheikh, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Sunday, March 27, 2022, in Ramallah. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Poole)

Last week, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called the fathers of two Palestinian shooters who were killed in an exchange of fire with Israeli forces in the West Bank, and expressed his condolences.

Israel’s Channel 12 said the phone call was seen by the generally unpopular Abbas as an opportunity to make some domestic political gains – hence its recording and distribution on Palestinian social media.

However, the current Israeli government has taken steps to ensure close coordination with the Palestinian Authority.

In a meeting held in Ramallah earlier this month, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Abbas Security coordination issues discussed.

A day later, President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Yair Lapid held telephone conversations with Abbasin what was believed to be the first direct conversation between an Israeli prime minister and the PA chief in five years.

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