“Just admit openly that you support terrorism,” Israel’s deputy defense minister told Arab lawmakers protesting a bill to end transfers of funds to the PA that go to terrorists.

Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan called on Arab Knesset members to “just admit openly that you support terrorism” during a stormy debate on the Knesset floor Wednesday. The incident occurred during a preliminary reading of a bill to slash the transfer of tax monies to the Palestinian Authority (PA) because of stipends paid to security prisoners and their families.

Responding to repeated interruptions by the members of the Joint List party, Ben-Dahan said, “This bill forms the basis of the relationship between Israel and the PA. It is inconceivable that on one hand the PA wants to make peace with Israel, while on the other it continues to finance terrorists and murderers.”

Ben-Dahan argued the first stage of normalization between Israel and the PA must be a halt to support for and encouragement of terrorism, and that those who perpetrate attacks must know that they and their family members will not receive any assistance whatsoever.

“If they knew this simple fact, they would think seven times about carrying out a terror attack against Israelis,” said Ben Dahan.

The bill, tabled by Yesh Atid Member of Knesset Elazar Stern in March, stipulates that Israel would withhold from tax transfers the same amount of money that the PA transfers to terrorists and their families. Israel collects import taxes on goods bound for the Palestinian Authority and transfers them to Ramallah.

Stern argued that the Palestinian policy of paying terrorists contributes to the PA’s program of educating [and encouraging] young people to kill Israelis. He also said the matter trumps party politics and called on Joint List MKs to support his initiative.

Members of the Arab party, however, said their support for the bill was out of the question.

“The bill imposes a collective punishment on the Palestinian people as a whole, since there is hardly a Palestinian family today without at least one member who is either a security prisoner or a released prisoner,” said Yousef Jabareen. “These are social benefits similar to National Insurance payments in Israel, and the purpose of these allowances is to help the families so that they do not starve.”

“This is the colonial legislation at its best, taking away the resources of the Palestinian people and perpetuating the occupation,” Jabareen concluded.

By: Ilana Messika/TPS