Israel’s new law fighting terror stipends “is tantamount to a declaration of war against the Palestinian people, their fighters and families and martyrs who fought for its freedom and for Jerusalem,” Abu Rudeineh declared.
Senior Palestinian officials condemned an Israeli law financially penalizing the Palestinian Authority (PA) for paying stipends to Palestinian terrorists, their families and the families of terrorists killed or injured during terror attacks.
Presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh on Tuesday said the Palestinians “categorically reject this grave decision and considers it as harmful to relations [as] the 1993 Oslo Accords.”
Israel collects an estimated $2.4 billion in tax revenues for the PA, in accordance with the 1994 Paris Protocol, which governs economic relations with the PA, including import taxes on goods passing through Israel to the Palestinians. The PA budget this year is NIS 18.5 billion ($5.2 billion).
Abu Rudeineh was responding to the Knesset’s passage of a law on Monday that withholds tens of millions of dollars from tax revenues collected by Israel on behalf of the PA over “welfare payments” the PA allocates to the families of prisoners and terrorists killed by Israeli forces. Israel and the US view these payments as a direct incitement to terrorism.
The PA has dedicated a significant portion of its budget, some seven percent, to directly incentivize the murder of Jews through stipends to terrorists and their families.
In its 2018 budget, the PA increased the funding and allocated $360 million for the Prisoners and Martyrs fund, which disperses payment to imprisoned terrorists, released terrorists and the families of dead terrorists.
Israel’s new legislation mandates that at the end of each year, the defense minister will draft a report on the funds the PA pays terrorists. The financial penalty will be determined by the report.
Terror Stipends: A Palestinian ‘Red Line’
Abu Rueinah threatened that if this decision is implemented, it will be met with “important Palestinian steps to confront this grave decision because this issue is a red line that no one will be allowed to cross.”
“It is tantamount to a declaration of war against the Palestinian people, their fighters and families and martyrs who fought for its freedom and for Jerusalem and the establishment of the independent Palestinian state,” Abu Rudeineh declared.
“Moving forward with the implementation of this decision will have grave repercussions,” he stated ominously, noting that Palestinian options include appeals to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
He said that the Palestinians, the Arab countries and the international community are “required to take a firm stand to confront and overturn this decision.”
He called on the Israeli government to reconsider its positions and decisions, so that the situation “would not reach a dangerous impasse.”
The US in March passed a similar bill into law withholding funds from the PA until it ceases its practice of incentivizing terrorism through monthly stipends paid to terrorists.
Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian official, said that the Palestinian leadership is considering scaling down its political, economic and security relations with Israel and making it fully responsible for “the occupied territories” if it seizes funds from the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the PA.
He told diplomats from Russia, China and Germany he met separately at his office on Tuesday that the seizure of the Palestinian funds is considered “theft, piracy and a blatant violation of signed agreements and international law.”
He said the Palestinian leadership and PA head Mahmoud Abbas will “not accept this decision and will not allow its implementation.”
However, explaining the significance of the bill, Member of Knesset Elazar Stern said that Israel “must stop the economic incentive the Palestinian Authority provides to terrorists, an incentive that encourages others to commit terror. Every Palestinian youth will understand it doesn’t pay to choose the path of terror.”