Israel mulls withholding funds from PA equaling amount paid each month to prisoners

Jerusalem currently transfers to PA about NIS 400 million monthly that it collects for it in tax and duty revenue.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu speaks to the cabinet, April 6, 2014. (photo credit: AMIT SHABAY/POOL)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu speaks to the cabinet, April 6, 2014.
(photo credit: AMIT SHABAY/POOL)
The government is considering subtracting from the monthly tax revenue it transfers to the Palestinian Authority the amount the PA pays to terrorists and their families, a government official said on Wednesday.
Holding back the monthly tax revenues – or a part of them – is one option Israel is considering, the official said, in response to the PA ’s unilateral application last week to join 15 international conventions and treaties, a move that sent the diplomatic talks into a tailspin.
Israel transfers to the PA each month about NIS 400 million it collects for it in tax and duty revenue.
According to a document released from the Prime Minister’s Office, the PA transferred $153.5m. in 2012 to terrorists in Israeli prisons and to their families, as well as to families of deceased terrorists, including suicide bombers. This amounts to nearly 16 percent of all foreign aid to the PA .
The PA received $786m. in foreign aid in 2012, a substantial component of its $3.1 billion budget that year, the document said.
According to these figures, money paid to the terrorists and their families represents fully 5 percent of the PA ’s annual total budget.
The document was written in January but released by the Prime Minister’s Office on Wednesday.
One government official said it would be “morally justified” for Israel to subtract from the money it transfers to the PA each month the amount that is spent on grants and monthly payments to terrorists and their families. The PA cannot complain about its financial difficulties, and then pay huge sums to support terrorists, he said.
According to the document, “the Palestinian Authority is highly dependent on foreign aid. This money, which supports the PA budget, is fungible to meet payments for imprisoned and released terrorists.”
Seventy-eight of the 104 convicted terrorists who Israel released as part of the deal that led to the PLO agreeing to restart negotiations in July receive monthly stipends of up to $3,500, and grants of up to $25,000, the document said.
“In this way the PA is giving a strong financial incentive to terrorism, including through the misuse of fungible foreign financial assistance,” the document read.
“Publicly rewarding convicted murderers gives an official stamp of approval to terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians. It is a highly persuasive form of incitement to violence and terrorism.”
Providing financial support for terrorists “not only violates basic morality, it encourages further terrorist outrages” and “may tempt young Palestinians to seek an answer to familial financial difficulties through the use of violence,” the document further stated.