Saying ‘enough is enough,’ Smotrich doubles cut of PA tax money

According to Israeli law, the government is supposed to withhold an amount equal to the financial support the Palestinian Authority gives jailed terrorists and their families.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich announced Wednesday that the government was dealing an extra financial blow to the Palestinian Authority (PA) due to its direct support of terrorism.

“For the first time ever, I signed a double offset of terror money that the PA transfers to terrorists’ families,” he said. “We have deducted 100 million shekels instead of 50 million up until now.”

“Furthermore,” Smotrich added, “we deducted an additional NIS 200,000 that will be transferred as compensation to the families of terror victims, in accordance with the court’s ruling. The PA funds terrorists, but now the State of Israel is saying: enough is enough. The citizens of Israel will not be part of this farce.”

According to 2018’s so-called “Pay for Slay” law, the government is supposed to withhold an amount of tax money it collects for the PA from Palestinian workers in Israel that is equal to the financial support the Authority provides to jailed terrorists and the families of those killed in attempted or actual attacks.

The PA pays hundreds of millions of shekels each year on a sliding scale, with those committing the most heinous crimes receiving the highest salaries. The PA consistently vows that it will never stop the payments no matter what Israel does, even though the tax revenue is a vast part of its budget.

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Israeli administrations have not been consistent in applying the law, and even when money is withheld it is often provided through other channels. The reference to the court ruling

On Tuesday, Smotrich flatly rejected a Channel 12 report that the Finance Ministry had executed the latest transfer of tax money prior to the just-concluded visit of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Israel.

“It is a complete lie,” he told Makor Rishon, the national-religious news site. Moreover, he said, his office is planning a whole series of sanctions against the PA following the recent escalation of terror activity in Judea and Samaria which the Authority is not only not stopping, as per its obligation under the Oslo Accords, but actively encouraging.

Smotrich’s announcement comes on the heels of the successful first reading of a Knesset bill Monday to strip Israeli citizenship or residency permits from anyone convicted of a terror offense who is paid a salary by the PA. Smotrich had tweeted about the law that the move was “the most correct and ethical thing. It’s simply a matter of common sense. And of course, it is also deterrent and joins our toolbox in the fight against terrorism.”

The bill must undergo two more readings in the Knesset in order to become law. The chances of it passing seem high, as in the first vote many Opposition MKs supported it as well, with the final tally being 89-8.