Bennett orders seizure of PA funds for families of Arab Israeli terror convicts
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Bennett orders seizure of PA funds for families of Arab Israeli terror convicts

Defense minister says directive to confiscate payments is part of effort to ensure ‘Jewish blood will no longer be financially lucrative’

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett (R) meets with IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi on November 13, 2019. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Naftali Bennett (R) meets with IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi on November 13, 2019. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett on Wednesday declared he was taking steps to make sure that “Jewish blood will no longer be financially lucrative,” after signing an order to prevent families of Arab Israelis convicted on terrorism charges from receiving salaries and payments from the Palestinian Authority.

According to the order, which Bennett described as “another step in the campaign against terrorists,” Israel will seize payments totaling hundreds of thousands of shekels made to the families of eight Arab Israelis who have been convicted of terror.

In a statement, the Defense Ministry described Bennett’s move as “the first time” that Israel has taken direct action against payments that provide an “economic incentive to carry out terrorist attacks,” and promised more such orders down the line.

Israel has long protested that such payments encourage terror attacks.

Those included in the order were convicted for participation in various terrorist acts and related offenses, including a 2003 double suicide bombing at the old central bus station in Tel Aviv, which killed 23.

Illustrative: Palestinian members of Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, the terrorist wing of the Fatah party, raise their weapons during a rally to support Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his government on March 1, 2016, in the West Bank Balata refugee camp near Nablus. (AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh)

This February, the security cabinet approved the implementation of a law to cut more than half a billion shekels in funds to the Palestinian Authority over its payments to terrorists and their families. The ministers agreed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could withhold NIS 502,697,000 ($138 million) in PA tax revenues, the amount Israeli officials say the PA paid out in stipends to attackers and their families in 2018.

Applying the law has faced opposition from the security establishment, who worry it could destabilize the situation in the West Bank.

This came just under a year after US President Donald Trump signed the bi-partisan Taylor Force Act, which mandated cutting off certain kinds of aid to the PA, until they ended these stipends.

Last month, the Dutch government cut funding for the Palestinian Authority over its salaries to terrorists serving time in Israeli jail, after talks with the Palestinian body “did not lead to the desired outcome.”

The European Union announced in May that it would launch a probe into Palestinian textbooks for incitement to hatred and violence. In August, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination issued a report expressing concern over the issue as well.

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