Israel’s Security Cabinet finally implemented a law freezing Palestinian Authority funds and originally approved in the Knesset in July 2018. Israel decided to deduct NIS 502,697,000 (US $138,000,000) from the funds designated for transfer to the Palestinian Authority.
At the Security Cabinet officials presented data to the effect that in 2018, the Palestinian Authority transferred the aforesaid amount to terrorists imprisoned in Israel and their families and to released prisoners. Therefore, it was decided to freeze the same amount of funds from the tax revenues that Israel collects for the Palestinian Authority.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come under increasing pressure to implement the tax freeze following 19-year-old Ori Ansbacher’s brutal rape and murder earlier in the month. The Palestinian suspect reportedly admitted that the killing was “nationalistically-motivated.”
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said of the move, “No country in the world should pay the vile terrorists that murder its people. The blood money the PA gives to terrorists reflects its culture of terror and incitement,” according to The Algemeiner.
“We will continue to work with the international community against the financial industry that funds murderers and encourages further attacks,” he added.
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said the move amounted to a “theft of Palestinian public money” and showed “Israel’s enactment of racist laws in support of the occupation” which “undermined the two-state solution,” according to a report on i24 News.
Speaking to Kan public broadcaster, a PA official warned that “this could jeopardize the Palestinian economy and undermine the PA’s ability to pay its salaries on time.”
Israel views the Palestinian payments as incitement to murder or pay-to-slay as they are euphemistically known. The Palestinian Authority counter claims that the payments are a source of welfare for families who have lost their main breadwinner.
The freeze comes as the Palestinians face major budget cuts made last year after the United States slashed funding for the UN’s Palestinian refugee program UNRWA and for development programs in the Palestinian territories. The UN’s World Food Program also cut back services due to funding shortages.