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Israel to vote Monday on bill slashing PA funding over terror payments

Israeli security forces detain a Palestinian demonstrator during clashes following a Friday noon prayer in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails on May 26, 2017
JAAFAR ASHTIYEH (AFP)
The bill is similar to the United States' Taylor Force act passed in March, 2018

Israel's Parliament (Knesset) will vote Monday on the first reading of the law "offsetting salaries of terrorists" drafted by the Ministry of Defense and under the guidance of its head minister Avigdor Liberman, which would reduce annual funding to the Palestinian Authority by more than NIS 1 billion.

"I call on all Knesset members to join us, vote for the law and put an end to this absurd theater, and every shekel transferred to the murderers will be deducted from the PA's tax revenues," Liberman said.

The bill, green-lighted by a Knesset committee in March, cuts funding to the Palestinian Authority (PA) directly proportional to the amount of funds that it pays out to the so-called "families of the martyrs"-- those who have committed terror attacks against Israelis.

The families, who are left without the attackers' contribution to the household after he or she is killed or imprisoned, are eligible to a stipend from the PA to compensate what they see as a "sacrifice for the national cause".

Israel, however, has long criticized the policy which they say encourages Palestinians to commit violence against Israelis.

Since the Oslo agreement, Israel is responsible for a large part of Palestinian tax collection, notably duties for goods imported and exported from Palestinian territories.

Such funds are normally collected by Israel and then transferred to the PA, but if the new law is approved in a final plenary reading then a percentage would be withheld and instead transferred to a special fund for the compensation of terror victims.

The statement cites estimates of cumulative payments to be reaped by "accused murderers" of various families if they were to live until about 80 years old, numbers totaling around ten million shekels.

Among the examples given are 19-year-olds Ahmed Nasser Jarar -- the Palestinian who killed the Israeli rabbi Raziel Shevach in a drive-by shooting attack outside the now-recognized Israeli West Bank outpost Havat Gilad -- and Abd al-Hakim 'Asi, charged just a month ago with the stabbing to death Rabbi Itamar Ben Gal in the West Bank settlement of Ariel.

"Abd al-Hakim 'Asi (19) is charged with the murder of Rabbi Itamar Ben Gal. Was arrested about a month ago, until now has earned NIS 1,400. (His monthly salary is still NIS 1,400 for the first three years as is customary in the PA's salary table). Assuming that he will be sentenced to life imprisonment, a cumulative wage expectation of 80,124,800 shekels will accrue upon reaching the age of 80."

The bill aims to remove what it explains acts as an incentive for young Palestinians as a potential career path, adding that "due to their prolonged imprisonment, all of the murderers mentioned in the notice will be entitled, if released, to a position of minister or alternatively a general. If they are released prematurely or if they die, they or their family will be entitled to continue to receive wages indefinitely."

The bill is similar to the United States' Taylor Force act passed roughly a month ago, which similarly slashes aid to the PA unless it cease payments to families of terrorists convicted in Israeli courts.

The legislation is named after US citizen Taylor Force, who was killed by a West Bank resident who went on a stabbing spree in Jaffa Port in March 2016.

The Israeli version is now being pushed by the Ministry of Defense together with the Ministry of Justice and all the security bodies in the State of Israel.

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