Defense Ministry sets up task force to implement law targeting PA terror payouts

Avigdor Liberman says new National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing will ‘inflict a painful blow on terrorists and their sponsors’

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman leads a Yisrael Beytenu faction meeting at the Knesset on July 2, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman leads a Yisrael Beytenu faction meeting at the Knesset on July 2, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman announced Tuesday the establishment of a task force to combat terror financing and track payments by the Palestinian Authority to convicted terrorists and their families.

The body, to be known as the National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing, will be tasked with implementing a new law slashing the equivalent amount of the payments from tax revenues Israel collects for the PA. The bipartisan law was passed Monday and resembles US legislation known as the Taylor Force Act.

The new bureau will also be responsible for tracking financing for terror groups in Israel and abroad, according to a statement from Liberman’s office, as well as coordinating between government ministries and security agencies.

“The war on terror rests on two legs — security and economic. We are working to wipe out terror by military means while also drying up the sources of its financing,” Liberman said.

Paul Landes (Screen capture: YouTube)

He said the task force will operate both domestically and worldwide using overt and covert methods in order “to inflict a painful blow on terrorists and their sponsors.”

The bureau will be headed by Paul Landes, a former head of the Justice Ministry’s Money Laundering and Terror Financing Prohibition Authority, Liberman’s office said, and will include representatives from the Israel Defense Forces, the Defense Ministry, the Prime Minister’s Office, Israel Police, and the anti-money laundering authority.

Backers of the new law accuse Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of encouraging terrorism with the payments and argue the legislation will remove incentives to carry out attacks.

The Palestinians, however, have refused to cease the payments and called the law a “declaration of war.” Others have warned the withholding of tax revenues could bankrupt the PA.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, center, waves with the released Palestinian prisoners at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah on August 14 , 2013. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

According to the Defense Ministry, the PA in 2017 paid NIS 687 million ($198 million) to the so-called “martyrs’ families fund,” and NIS 550 million ($160 million) to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club — some 7 percent of its overall budget.

Palestinian prisoners serving 20- to 30-year sentences for carrying out terror attacks are eligible for a lifetime NIS 10,000 ($2,772) monthly stipend, the Defense Ministry said, citing PA figures. Those prisoners who receive a three- to five-year sentence get a monthly wage of NIS 2,000 ($554). Palestinian prisoners who are married, have children, live in Jerusalem, or hold Israeli citizenship receive additional payments.

The Defense Ministry in May released figures alleging that some terrorists who killed Israelis will throughout their lifetimes be paid more than NIS 10 million ($2.78 million) each by the PA.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed
Register for free
and continue reading
Registering also lets you comment on articles and helps us improve your experience. It takes just a few seconds.
Already registered? Enter your email to sign in.
Please use the following structure:
Or Continue with
By registering you agree to the terms and conditions. Once registered, you’ll receive our Daily Edition email for free.
Register to continue
Or Continue with
Log in to continue
Sign in or Register
Or Continue with
check your email
Check your email
We sent an email to you at .
It has a link that will sign you in.