A draft new law submitted to the Knesset (parliament) would see Israel deduct nearly $250 million from the Palestinian Authority tax revenues which Ramallah pays to Palestinian prisoners in Israel and the families of martyrs, Yedioth Ahronoth has reported. The bill was submitted to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on 20 March.
The legislation was proposed by Yesh Atid MK Elazar Stern. According to the former general, in 2016, the PA paid out some $303 million in stipends and other benefits to the families of “martyrs” who lost their lives during attacks against Israelis.
Palestinian prisoners serving time in Israeli jails for security-related offences were also given PA support. Stern called the stipends “an incentive to murder Jews,” and said Israel must put an end to the PA policy.
“The funds transferred to terrorists are not just part of the larger issue of incitement but they encourage Arabs to carry out terror attacks,” the MK said.
Economic agreements between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government provide for Israel to collect taxes and customs duties on behalf of the treasury in the occupied West Bank on a monthly basis.
According to the head of the Studies and Documentation Unit in the Prisoners’ and Detainees’ Affairs Commission, Abdel Nasser Farwana, the draft bill is an example of increasing Israeli targeting of the Palestinian national struggle and its legitimate resistance, which the Israelis want to criminalise.
“It is the Palestinian Authority’s and the PLO’s right and duty to stand by the Palestinian prisoners and the martyrs’ families,” Farwana told Quds Press on Sunday, “as well as the duty of the international community to do so.”
One London-based commentator pointed out that the families of prisoners held in British jails, for example, do not have their government social security payments cut when loved ones are put behind bars. “It is a fallacy to suggest that Palestinians will sacrifice themselves simply in order for their families to receive a relative pittance from the PA,” he added.