Knesset advances bill cutting funds to PA over terrorist stipends

Israel seeks to penalize the PA, which offers an incentive to potential terrorists by paying salaries to Palestinian prisoners.  

Israel’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation advanced a bill on Sunday that would cut tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority (PA) over stipends it pays to terrorists imprisoned in Israel and their families.

The bill, submitted in March by Member of Knesset (MK) Elazar Stern, stipulates that at the conclusion of each fiscal year, the Ministry of Defense will publish a report summarizing the scope of annual financial support provided by the PA and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to Palestinian prisoners and families of terrorists. Israel would then deduct the same amount from tax transfers to the PA in the following fiscal year.

Israel collects an estimated $2.1 billion in tax revenues for the PA, in accordance with the 1994 Paris Protocol, which governs economic relations with the PA, including import taxes on goods passing through Israel and destined for the PA.

According to the bill, seven percent of the PA budget, largely funded by American and European aid, is directed by Palestinian legislation to pay salaries and benefits to Palestinian terrorists imprisoned in Israel and to allowances for Palestinian families whose relatives have been killed or injured while perpetrating terrorist attacks.

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These payments, amounting to more than NIS 1.1 billion ($350 million) per year, are funneled through the Palestinian Authority Martyrs’ Fund, which was transferred to the PLO in 2014 in an attempt to divert criticism.

Stern called to end this practice. “It is inconceivable that terrorists will receive salaries for murdering Jews. The state must do its utmost to fight terror; this law is critical to Israel’s national security,” he stated.

“While we complain to the nations of the world about their turning a blind eye to the PA support of terrorism, the State of Israel itself does so to a considerable extent,” the legislation states.

Representative of bereaved families signed a letter calling on the ministers to vote in favor of the bill.

The bill is supported by both the coalition and opposition.

Stern’s bill emulates the Taylor Force Act, a 2016 US legislative bill sponsored by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), which proposes to halt American aid to the PA until the latter changes its legislation regarding the transfer of funds to Palestinian security prisoners and family members as well as to families of terrorists who died committing attacks.

The bill was introduced in the wake of the murder of 28-year-old Taylor Force, an American citizen and US army veteran who was visiting Israel as part of a Vanderbilt University study group. He was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist on the Tel Aviv beach promenade in March 2016.

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The Israeli bill is scheduled to be presented to the Knesset Plenum for a preliminary reading on Wednesday. If successful, it would need to pass a second and third reading before becoming law.

By: Ilana Messika/TPS and World Israel News Staff