A new task force to track the payments the Palestinian Authority makes to convicted terrorists and their families was established by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Tuesday, just one day after the Knesset passed a law slashing tax revenues to the body in the amount paid to terrorists.
The National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing will implement the new law using overt and covert methods, and will track financing for terror groups in Israel and abroad, in partnership with Israeli government ministries and security agencies. It will be headed by the former head of the Justice Ministry’s Money Laundering and Terror Financing Prohibition Authority, and will include representatives the Prime Minister’s Office, the Israel Defense Forces, the Defense Ministry and the Israel Police.
PA presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh called the new Israeli law, which will subtract the amount paid for terror from taxes collected for the PA by Israel and give them to organizations that provide aid to victims of Arab terror, a “declaration of war on the Palestinian people, their fighters, prisoners and the families of the martyrs.”
Aside from the new Israeli law, the United States passed the Taylor Force act in March, halting payments to the PA until terrorist salaries are abolished. And just days ago, Australia announced that it will also no longer make direct payments to the PA until it can be sure its money does not go to terrorism.
The PA vowed to continue the payments, stating that “the Palestinian leadership, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, will not abandon the prisoners and the families of the martyrs, who sacrificed their lives for the sake of their homeland.” Leaders criticized the financial measures, accusing parties of using them to pressure them into accepting a peace plan by U.S. President Donald Trump.
One Palestinian official told The Jerusalem Post that the suspension of American funding will not have a crippling impact, given that it only comprises 15 percent of the PA budget.
The PA paid NIS 687 million ($198 million) to the “martyrs’ families fund,” and NIS 550 million ($160 million) to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club in 2017—some 7 percent of its overall budget and about NIS 100 million a month, according to the Israel Defense Ministry.
Payments are calculated according to length of sentence (longer sentences earn more), marital status, number of children and residence (Israeli Arabs and Jerusalem residents receive additional payments).
According to ministry figures released in May, some terrorists may earn upwards of $2.78 million in their lifetimes.