Israel withholds tax funds in response to PA’s financing of terror.
By World Israel News Staff and AP
The Israeli Security Cabinet on Sunday voted to withhold $43 million of tax funds from the Palestinians, saying that is the amount of money the Palestinian Authority (PA) has paid to terrorists to commit violence in 2018, Israeli media reported.
The sum includes funds that Israel says the Palestinians have used to pay the families of Palestinians who have been jailed or killed as a result of attacking Israel. As a matter of PA law, money automatically flows to terrorists and their families, acting as both an incentive and a reward for violence against Israel.
The Palestinians say the money is for vulnerable families affected by violence, skirting the question of where the violence originated. They condemned the Israeli decision.
“This is another step of escalation designed to impose a financial blockade on us,” PA Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh said in a statement.
“We will continue to pay salaries to the martyrs and families of the wounded no matter the cost,” he said, noting that the PA intended to take unspecified steps in response to the Israeli decision.
Under past agreements, Israel collects customs and other taxes on behalf of the Palestinians and transfers the money to the PA. These monthly transfers, about $170 million, are a key source of funding for the budget of the authority, which administers parts of the Judea and Samaria.
Israel passed the law deducting parts of these transfers in 2018 saying the funds were supporting terrorists’ families.
In February, after Israel withheld $140 million, the Palestinians said they would reject all tax transfers to protest Israeli policy. But six months later, in a deep financial crisis, the PA backed down from its position.
Some Israeli lawmakers expressed anger that Israel was transferring any money to the PA.
Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi denounced the latest Israeli move, calling it a “blatant act of theft and political extortion.”
“This is a clear violation of Palestinian rights and signed agreements as well as a criminal act of collective punishment exacted for cynical domestic Israeli political reasons,” she said.
Ashrawi has “on many occasions publicly endorsed terrorism,” reports JNS, describing all Israelis living in Judea and Samaria as a “legitimate and select target of Palestinian resistance.”