MidEast

Israeli Defense Ministry Pushes Bill to Stop PA Salaries to Terrorists

The Israeli Ministry of Defense on Tuesday publicized a draft bill that seeks to cut welfare payments paid out by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to Palestinian prisoners and their families, including so-called “martyrs”, from tax revenues Israel transfers annually to the PA, The Times of Israel reported.

“The Palestinian Authority pays over a billion shekels a year to terrorists and their relatives, thereby encouraging and perpetuating terrorism,” Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said in a statement. “The moment the payments are set based on the severity of the crime and the prison sentence, namely that those who murder and are sentenced to life receive a lot more, this is [tantamount to] funding terror attacks against Israelis,” he added.

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

Palestinian serving a prison sentence of 3-5 years receive a monthly wage of NIS 2,000 ($580). Palestinian prisoners who are married, have children, live in Jerusalem, or hold Israeli citizenship are eligible for additional payments. “For illustrative purposes, the average salary in the West Bank stands at just over NIS 2,000 ($580) a month,” the Defense Ministry said.

All Palestinians jailed in Israeli prisons receive monthly payments from the Palestine Liberation Organization, including to the families of dead Palestinian terrorists.

A recent report published by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli Defense Ministry agency responsible for administering civilian affairs in the West Bank and the crossings with Gaza, revealed that approximately one-third of Palestinian prisoners are “directly responsible for the murder of Israelis.”

Israel’s Ministry of Defense made the announcement a week after United States President Donald Trump threatened to cut aid to the PA over the ailing peace process, asking why Washington should make “any of these massive future payments” when the Palestinians were “no longer willing to talk peace.”

In recent month, U.S. lawmakers have also been advancing the Taylor Force Act, named after a former U.S. army officer killed by a Palestinian terrorist while visiting Tel Aviv in March 2016. This bipartisan bill cuts off assistance that directly benefits the Palestinian Authority unless the PA takes credible steps to end acts of violence, stops payments for acts of terrorism, and publicly condemns acts of terror.

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