Palestinians on Tuesday launched a “national campaign” to thwart Israel’s decision to deduct payments made by the Palestinian Authority to security prisoners and families of “martyrs” from tax revenues belonging to the Palestinians and which are collected by Israel.The campaign was launched in Ramallah by representatives of various Palestinian groups and relatives of security prisoners held by Israel and “martyrs.” Palestinian politicians and activists from different factions also participated in the event.
Earlier this month, the Knesset voted into law the so-called “payfor- slay” bill to slash funds to the PA by the amount it pays out to the prisoners and the families of Palestinians killed in attacks on Israelis.The money will be deducted from the taxes and tariffs Israel collects on behalf of the PA.Organizers of the campaign said its goal was to thwart the new Israeli bill through a series of activities in the press and social media. As part of the campaign, the Palestinians are also planning to send letters to diplomatic missions in Ramallah explaining the dangers of the Israeli move, the organizers added.Issa Qaraqi, head of the Palestinian Commission for Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners and one of the leaders of the campaign, said that the drive was directed against Israel’s “piracy and theft” of the stipends. The campaign, he added, will take place in many parts of the West Bank, as well as some capitals around the world.Condemning the Israeli bill as “Israeli blackmail,” Qaraqi said, “All the racist laws approved by Israel stemmed from apartheid.”He added, “Nothing will discourage our people from supporting those who made sacrifices for the Palestinian cause.”Qaraqi urged the international community to “assume its responsibilities towards this Israeli crime against the Palestinians.”Jamal Muheissen, a senior Fatah official, said in a speech that the campaign would continue until Israel backtracks on its decision. He said the campaign was also aimed at expressing Palestinian opposition to the “conspiracy that is being concocted against the Palestinians by the US administration and the extremist government of [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu.”Kadoura Fares, a senior Fatah official and head of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, said during the rally in Ramallah the Israeli bill was aimed at “undermining the Palestinians’ spirit of resistance.”Palestinians, he added, have “no choice but to devise a new strategy based on comprehensive resistance against the occupation because Israel is confronting us with a strategy of its own.”PA President Mahmoud Abbas pledged recently to continue the payments to the security prisoners and the families of the “martyrs” despite the Israeli decision. “We won’t allow anyone to interfere with the money,” he said. “They are our martyrs and prisoners and the injured, and we will continue to pay them. We started the payments in 1965.”
Israel enacts law to freeze Palestinian Authority funds given to Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli jails (pay-for-slay), July 3, 2018 (Reuters)