The Ministerial Committee for Legislation advanced a bill on Sunday that would cut tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority (PA) over stipends paid by the Palestinian leadership to security prisoners and their families.
The bill, first tabled in March by Yesh Atid MK Elazar Stern, stipulates that at the conclusion of each fiscal year, the Ministry of Defense will publish a report summarizing the scope of annual financial support provided by the PA and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) to security prisoners and the families of terrorists. Israel would then deduce the same amount from tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority in the following fiscal year.
Israel transfers tax revenues it collects for the PA in accordance with the 1994 ‘Paris Protocol’ governing economic relations with the Palestinian Authority. Israel collects import taxes on goods passing through Israel and destined for the Palestinian Authority.
“We must end the fact that terrorists and their families receive payment for the murder of Israelis,” Stern said. “It is inconceivable that terrorists will receive salaries for murdering Jews. The state must do its utmost to fight terror, [and] this law is critical to Israel’s national security.”
According to the bill, seven percent of the PA budget, largely funded by American and European aid, is directed by Palestinian legislation to pay salaries and fund benefits to Palestinian terrorists imprisoned in Israel (during their imprisonment and even after their release) and to allowances for Palestinian families whose relatives have been killed or injured while perpetrating terrorist attacks. These payments, amounting to more than NIS 1.1 billion ($350 million) per year, are funneled through the Palestinian Authority Martyrs’ Fund which in 2014 was transferred to the PLO in an attempt to divert criticism.
“While we complain to the nations of the world about their turning a blind eye to the PA support of terrorism, the State of Israel itself does so to a considerable extent,” the legislation states.
Representative of bereaved families signed a letter to the government calling on the ministers to vote in support of the bill.
The bill is supported by both the coalition and opposition, including Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Likud MK Avi Dichter and Zionist Union MK Eyal Ben-Reuven, and Kulanu party chairman MK Roy Folkman.
Stern’s bill emulates the Taylor Force Act, a 2016 US legislative bill sponsored by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (South Carolina), which proposes to halt American economic aid to the PA until the latter changes its legislation regarding the transfer of funds to Palestinian security prisoners and family members, and families of terrorists who died committing attacks.
The bill was introduced in the wake of the killing of 28-year-old Taylor Force, an American citizen and United States army veteran, who was visiting Israel as part of a Vanderbilt University study group when he was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist on the Tel Aviv beach promenade in March 2016.
The Israeli bill is scheduled to be presented to the Knesset Plenum for preliminary reading this Wednesday and will then need to pass second and third reading before going into law.