Officials from the Prime Minister’s Office have reportedly asked the US to pressure the Palestinian Authority and its leader Mahmoud Abbas to cut payments to the father of the terrorist who carried out Thursday’s attack in Tel Aviv.
Ra’ad Hazem, a Palestinian from the West Bank, killed three people at a Tel Aviv bar before being killed in a shootout with Israeli forces.
His father, Fathi, is a former security prisoner who previously served as an officer in the Palestinian Authority’s security services in Jenin, and therefore already receives a stipend from the PA.
He is also expected to receive an additional stipend over the death of his son. Earlier Friday, he hailed his son’s deadly shooting spree and encouraged further such acts.
“Your eyes will see the victory soon. You will see the change. You will achieve your freedom… God, liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque from the desecration of the occupiers,” Fathi said, according to footage from the scene.
Channel 12 said Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office contacted officials in the US to pressure Abbas to cut the existing and future payments to Fathi’s following those remarks.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz has also brought up payments to relatives of terrorists in all of his recent meetings and calls with Abbas, the network reported.
The Palestinian Authority’s practice of paying stipends to those convicted of carrying out terror attacks and to the families of those killed while carrying out attacks — often referred to by some Israeli officials as a pay-to-slay policy — has been pilloried by critics as incentivizing terror.
Palestinian leaders have long defended the payments, describing them as a form of social welfare and necessary compensation for victims of Israel’s military justice system in the West Bank.
The United States has pressured Ramallah to end the policy in recent years. In 2018, Congress passed legislation banning the US government from sending aid to the PA until it ended the practice. The matter remains a key bone of contention between the two sides.
Channel 12 said Israel hopes the Biden administration will make clear to Abbas that his condemnation of the attack is not enough and needs to be followed by action, from cutting the payments to aiding a possible Israeli offensive in Jenin to crack down on terror emanating from the West Bank city.
However, officials harbor no illusions that the pressure campaign will yield results, the channel said.
While Ramallah works closely with Israel to crack down on Palestinian terror groups in the West Bank, Abbas rarely publicly denounces specific acts of violence. Opinion polls regularly find large swathes of Palestinian society that view armed struggle as legitimate resistance to Israeli rule.
The Tel Aviv shooting was the latest in a string of violent terror attacks in Israel that has killed 14 people in four separate deadly incidents.
On Friday, lawmaker Gaby Lasky from the left-wing Meretz party stirred up a hornet’s nest by justifying the PA’s terror payments.
She said payments to the families of terrorists were necessary to prevent the exploitation of women and children, before walking back the comment and apologizing.
Other coalition lawmakers, including Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar, lashed her for the comments.
The controversy and coalition infighting came as the government teeters on the brink. Yamina lawmaker Idit Silman quit the coalition on Wednesday, stripping it of its parliamentary majority and making its collapse likely.