Israel Moves Ahead With Transfer Of Palestine Funds To Terror Victims
Israel on Sunday transferred 138.8 million shekels ($39.5 million) of revenues collected for the Palestinian Authority to the victims of terrorism and their families.
At a press conference on Sunday, Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said, “We promised to fix this, and today we are correcting an injustice. This is an important day for morality, for justice and for the fight against terrorism. There is no greater justice than offsetting the funds of the Authority, that acts to support terrorism, and transferring them to the families of the victims of terrorism.”
The move creates a financial crisis for the PA, which Is already in dire economic straits.
Israel suspended on Sunday a pass easing Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki’s travel in the West Bank as part of the sanctions it leveled against the PA late last week to protest its push for an International Court of Justice advisory opinion against the Jewish state.
“The foreign minister will continue his job and his diplomatic activities with or without the card,” Maliki’s aid Ahmed Al-Deek told Reuters.
Maliki’s “VIP” travel card was confiscated by border staff as he crossed from Jordan into the West Bank via the Allenby Crossing, his office said. The Defense Ministry confirmed the suspension of Maliki’s VIP pass.
In an interview with Voice of Palestine Radio, Maliki said his office had written to governments around the world asking that to condemn the Israeli sanctions.
Israel confiscated Maliki’s VIP card in 2021 after he returned from a meeting of the ICC. It was not immediately clear why the card had been confiscated and when it will be restored according to the JPost.
Smotrich hailed a years-long campaign to offset the PA’s regular payments to terror convicts and to families of dead Palestinian attackers, which Israel and other critics say offer a direct incentive for terror, calling it a “just struggle…not only in providing retroactive justice, but also as a deterrent.”
Israel has made such deductions in the past, following 2018 legislation on the matter, but only partially upholds the policy, as officials are keenly aware that the PA is dangerously close to financial collapse.
“There is no solace for the families of those murdered, but there is justice,” Smotrich said.
The P.A. pays monthly stipends to Palestinians, and/or their families, for carrying out terrorist attacks against Israel. In 2021, the P.A. paid out an estimated 512 million shekels ($157 million) as part of this “pay for slay” policy.
Asked if the move would strengthen P.A. rival Hamas, Smotrich said, “The group weakening the P.A. is the P.A. itself, which chooses to be involved in and encourage terrorism and the murder of Israeli citizens.”
In response to a question regarding the possible economic collapse of the P.A., Smotrich replied, “As long as the Palestinian Authority encourages terrorism and is an enemy, what interest do I have in helping it exist?”
The Israeli government’s decision to transfer P.A. terror funds to victims of terror was one of several announced on Friday in the wake of the P.A.’s latest act of lawfare against the Jewish state.
On Dec. 30, the P.A. orchestrated a United Nations General Assembly resolution urging the International Court of Justice to render an advisory opinion on Israel’s “prolonged occupation” of Palestinian territory.
Produced in association with Jewish News Syndicate.
(Additional reporting provided by Alberto Arellano)