Israel withholds funding for ‘Palestinian’ Authority as punishment for sponsoring terrorism

Naftali Bennett’s security cabinet voted on Sunday to deduct $184 million (NIS 600 million), or about 7% of the PA’s total tax revenue, from payments made to the Palestinian Authority. The deduction is intended to offset payments made by the PA to the “Martyrs Fund” which pays stipends to terrorists and their families who were killed or imprisoned while murdering Jews. 

REPORT: PA paid $182 million to support terrorism in 2020

Defense Minister Benny Gantz presented a report to the cabinet prepared by  the Defense Ministry’s National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing which stated that the PA paid $182.82 million in “indirect support for terror in 2020.”

“In light of this report, these funds will be frozen from the monthly payments that Israel transfers to the PA,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

As part of the Oslo Accord agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, Israel collects tax revenues on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. Withholding the funds is in accordance with a 2018 law that requires the government to deduct the amount of money that the PA gives to terrorists and their families from the taxes and tariffs Israel collects for the PA. PA funding was NIS 517.4 million in 2019.

Last November, the Israeli government withheld an identical amount from a $730 million transfer to the PA.

In a Times of Israel report in March, PLO Commissioner for Prisoners’ Affairs Qadri Abu Bakr stated that the PA pays around NIS 50 million ($15 million) per month to prisoners and their families. He stated that the total for 2020 was  NIS 600 million ($181 million). These “salaries” were paid to about 7,500 released Palestinian prisoners and an additional 4,500 prisoners who are currently serving sentences in Israeli prisons.

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW has estimated that the PLO paid out at least NIS 512 million ($159 million) in prisoner stipends in 2020.

The PA stipend is increased for terrorists serving longer sentences in Israeli prisons. As a result, those incarcerated for the most brutal terror attacks receive more funding than those guilty of lesser crimes or fewer murders.

Despite claims that the PA is considering changing this policy, last month, PA President Mahmoud Abbas ordered that the family of the murderer of two Israelis be paid more than $42,000 in compensation for housing costs incurred after their house was destroyed in a court-ordered demolition. The murderer stabbed to death Rabbi Nehemia Lavi, a 41-year-old father of seven, and Aharon Banita, age 22, in October 2015. Bennett’s wife Adele and their 2-year-old son were also wounded in the attack.

The change in the policy being considered by the PA would pay stipends to terrorists based on their financial needs rather than the length of their sentence.

The PA Martyrs’ Fund was begun in 2004 at the height of the Second Intifada. The fund also guarantees the terrorists civil service employment upon their release.  Ex-prisoners also receive additional benefits from the government, including partially or fully-waived health insurance payments and tuition at Palestinian universities.

Biden supporting terrorism

On 23 March 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump signed the Taylor Force Act into law, which will cut about a third of US foreign aid payments to the PA until the PA ceases making payment of stipends to terrorists and their surviving families.

Soon after entering office, the Biden administration restored funding to the PA despite a report showing that USAID did not fully comply with vetting procedures for primary recipients in the years 2015-2019 and that some of the funding may have reached terrorist organizations. In May, a State Department spokesman admitted that some of the reinstated funding may end up in the hands of terrorists.

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