Israel to give millions in withheld PA taxes to Israeli lynch victims’ families 

The decision to divert the money to terrorist victims partially implements a three-year-old court order.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich signed off Sunday on the seizure of 139 million shekels ($39.5 million) from the Palestinian Authority (PA) which will then be given to terror victims, foremost among them families of two IDF soldiers murdered in the infamous Ramallah lynching 22 years ago.

In announcing the repurposing of the funds, Smotrich said, “We are putting an end to the Palestinian Authority’s celebration of terror.”

“He who acts against us will pay a heavy price,” he added.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir tweeted in approval that “Our right-wing government is indicating a direction. I hope and believe that more measures will be taken against those who support terrorism and try to put pressure on Israel.”

In 2000, IDF reservists Vadim Nurzhitz and Yosef “Yossi” Avrahami took a wrong turn into the PA capital, Ramallah. They were forcibly taken from a PA jail cell, beaten and stabbed to death by rioters, and then their bodies were thrown out the window and mutilated by a crowd of frenzied Palestinians. An infamous photo was taken of a Palestinian showing off his blood-stained hands through the window to the crowd below.

Read  UAE calls emergency UN Security Council meeting, 'condemns Israeli operation' in Gaza

With the help of the Shurat Hadin Law Center, the victims’ families along with over a dozen other plaintiffs sued the PA in court for their liability in this attack as well as hundreds of others during the Second Intifada, and won their case in 2019. Compensation was set at half a billion shekels, to be paid out of a fund for terror victims set up according to the 2018 “Pay for Slay” law.

The law mandates that the same amount of money that the PA pays to terrorists and their families for murdering or attempting to murder Israeli is supposed to be deducted from the taxes that Israel collects from Palestinians on the PA’s behalf.

The mechanism has only been intermittently applied by previous governments, as the PA depends on this tax money for a good portion of its annual budget and Jerusalem has feared what would happen if the PA collapsed financially.

The previous government had refused to carry out the legally mandated transfer, telling Shurat Hadin two months ago that it was leaving the issue for the incoming government to deal with. Smotrich’s move will ensure that at least part of the court’s order will finally be honored.

The penalty is part of a package the security cabinet decided upon Thursday night to punish the PA for a UN General Assembly resolution it had submitted that called for the International Court of Justice (ICC) to take legal action against the Israeli “occupation” of Judea and Samaria. The resolution had passed 87 to 26, with 53 abstentions, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would not “obligate the government of Israel”, as is the case with “the hundreds of distorted” anti-Israel resolutions before it.

Read  Major ground operation in Gaza inevitable, warns Israeli minister

Like the United States, Israel is not a member country of the ICC and disputes its jurisdiction over the entire Palestinian-Israeli conflict on several grounds, including the fact that “Palestine” is not a sovereign state capable of being a party to the Rome Statute that set up the court.