A new bill submitted to the Knesset last month would see Israel deduct NIS 1 billion from the tax revenues it collects for the Palestinians and hands over to them, the equivalent amount that Ramallah pays to terrorists and their families
The legislation proposed by Yesh Atid lawmaker Elazar Stern says that in 2016, the Palestinian Authority paid out some NIS 1.1 billion ($303 million) in stipends and other benefits to the families of so-called “martyrs” who lost their lives during attacks against Israelis and Palestinian prisoners serving time in Israeli jails for security-related offenses.
The bill was submitted to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on March 20, but it will not come up for discussion until after the start of the next Knesset session in mid-May.
Stern called the stipends “an incentive to murder Jews,” and said Israel must put an end to the PA policy.
“The funds transferred to terrorists are not just part of the larger issue of incitement but they encourage Arabs to carry out terror attacks,” Stern told the Yedioth Ahronoth daily. “It’s a real incentive to murder Jews, and we must stop this insanity immediately.”
According to PA law, Palestinian security prisoners serving time in Israeli jails and families of assailants killed while carrying attacks against Israelis are eligible to receive stipends and other benefits.
According to the Middle East Media Research Institute, the allowances range from $364 (NIS 1,500) a month for a term of up to three years, to $3,120 (NIS 13,000) for a term of 30 years and more. There is a monthly $78 supplement for terrorists from Jerusalem and a $130 supplement for Arab Israeli terrorists.
Israel transfers about NIS 460 million ($125 million) a month, or NIS 5.4 billion ($1.5 billion) a year, to the Palestinian Authority in tax and customs rebates levied on goods destined for Palestinian markets that transit through Israeli ports.
The transfers are a key revenue source for the cash-strapped Palestinian government, and the Israeli government has withheld payment in the past over political disputes.
Israel has long argued the PA’s payments glorify terrorism, part of what it sees as a broader trend of “incitement” blamed for fueling a surge of violence last year.
Palestinians reject claims that money and alleged anti-Israel incitement are key motives in the rash of stabbing, shooting and vehicular attacks on Israelis in 2015 and 2016. They say attackers are driven by despair over the chokehold of half a century of Israeli occupation or a desire to avenge others killed by Israeli troops or armed civilians.
Last month, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman declared the Palestinian National Fund a terrorist organization, accusing the PA-linked organization of providing “massive support” to terrorists and funneling “tens of millions of shekels” each month to Palestinian security prisoners, convicted terrorists and their families
The issue of PA support for terrorists and their families has recently been raised by foreign donors.
In February, US Senator Lindsey Graham proposed a bill to cut funding to the PA over the practice, and late last year, the British government froze part of its aid to Ramallah for similar reasons.
Last September, the German government for the first time admitted that the PA likely grants financial support to terrorists and their families, and vowed to further investigate the matter.