Israeli parliament passes law slashing funds to PA over 'terror payments'
AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed
The Israeli parliament on Monday passed a law that will slash tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority (PA) unless welfare payments to convicted terrorists and their families are stopped.
First mooted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu two years ago, it sailed through the Knesset with 87 votes in favor and just 15 against.
Israel collects tax from Palestinians in the West Bank and then transfers the funds to the PA.
After the law comes into force, payments made by the PA to Palestinian security prisoners and their families would be deducted from the tax revenue given to Ramallah.
The law's passage was welcomed by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.
"Every shekel Abu Mazen pays terrorists and murderers will be automatically deducted from the PA budget," he tweeted, using an Israeli nickname for PA President Mahmoud Abbas "An effective war on terror is also fought through the pocket -- of the terrorists, of their families and of, Abu Mazen."
One of the bill's authors, Avi Dichter, said that since its passing "Israel will not be a conduit for transferring funds to terrorists."
Palestinian leaders have previously argued that the payments are a necessary form of welfare to families who have lost their main breadwinners, and that cutting them would be politically impossible.
Lawmaker from the Joint Arab List, Jamal Zahalka, argued during the fiery pre-vote debate that the move would cast the affected families into poverty.
"The people behind this law are shameless," he was quoted as saying by the Ynet website. "They support the murder of Palestinian children."
The bill's sponsors say that over the past four years the PA has made some 4 billion shekels ($1 billion) in payments to "terrorists".
In March the United States Congress passed the Taylor Force Act, which has a similar intention.
Last month i24NEWS revealed that the entire US aid budget for the Palestinians has been quietly put on ice pending a review into the Authority's payments, often referred to by critics as "pay for slay".
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