Abbas Will Refuse Taxes Collected by Israel; Prioritizes Paying Terrorists and Families

In response to the Israeli security cabinet’s decision to withhold the equivalent of what the Palestinian Authority pays to terrorists and their families from tax receipts it collects, PA President Mahmoud Abbas said that he will refuse all taxes collected by Israel on behalf of the PA, The Times of Israel reported Wednesday.

The PA program, which is called “pay to slay,” pays monthly stipends to terrorists and their families. The program, which Israel says encourages terrorism, pays higher sums for more serious acts of terror.

Israel’s security cabinet decided to withhold $138 million of taxes it collected on behalf of the PA. The sum corresponds to a year’s worth of salaries paid to terrorists and their families.

Abbas is refusing the $222 million that Israel collects and transfers to the PA on a monthly basis, which amounts to one-third of the PA’s budget.

“I tell you honestly that if we only had 20 or 30 million shekels, which is what is paid [monthly] to families of martyrs, we will give them to the families of martyrs. I mean if the [Palestinian] Authority doesn’t have anything other than that [amount], I will pay it to the families of martyrs and prisoners and wounded persons. This needs to be understood,” Abbas told a delegation of American politicians and activists, according to a recording heard on the Voice of Palestine, the PA’s radio station.

Abbas said that he would, instead, turn to international institutions to make of the shortfall.

“These payments are one of the most sensitive issues in Palestinian society,” an anonymous Palestinian official told The Times of Israel. “If the PA were to get rid of them, it would be committing political suicide, especially considering the difficult political situation.”

Last month, the PA said that it would refuse payments from the United States, following passage of the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA). The law would potentially make the PA liable for damages caused by terrorism as long as it receives aid money from the U.S.

“Often, Israel is told that it must make sacrifices for peace,” Joshua S. Block, President, and CEO of The Israel Project wrote with respect to the PA’s refusal of U.S. aid. “In this instance, the P.A. is making a sacrifice so that it doesn’t have to make peace. Understanding the P.A.’s decision makes clear on whom the onus falls for the failure to give peace a chance.”

[Photo: AP Archive / YouTube ]