JERUSALEM – Israel on Sunday said it would withhold tens of millions of dollars worth of taxes it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority over Ramallah’s so-called “pay-for-slay” program, in which stipends are paid to terrorists and their families.
Some NIS 149 million (just over $43 million) will be withheld, equal to the sum paid out to Palestinians involved in acts of terror in 2018 who were killed or wounded, the Times of Israel reported.
Israel has already withheld an additional NIS 500 million ($144,578,030) which is equal to the amount paid out to Palestinian prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families.
A total of NIS 600 million (about $170 million) a month is collected by Israel in tax revenues for the PA, according to an October estimate, and comprises a major source of funding for the Ramallah-based leadership.
A July 2018 law cutting funds to the PA over its payments to convicted terrorists was only partially enacted in 2019, leading to objections from the right.
In October, the Palestinians resumed accepting the tax monies after it had rejected them in protest over the new legislation.
The PA has in the past described the Israeli policy as “an act of piracy and theft.” Prior to implementing the new law, a PA official warned that such measures against the PA would result in a “state of anarchy” in the West Bank.
The same official also charged Netanyahu with leveraging PA monies to advance his election campaign. “Netanyahu wants to show his people that he’s punishing the Palestinians so he can win more votes,” the official said.
Last week, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett declared that funds paid to Arab-Israeli terrorists would be seized.
“Jewish blood will no longer be financially lucrative,” Bennett said, adding that it was “another step in the campaign against terrorists.”