Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit told the National Labor Court on Wednesday that it should support the state in rejecting a request for state economic support payments by an east Jerusalem family which receives “pay for slay” payments from the Palestinian Authority.
The family requested economic support from the National Insurance Institute (NII – Bituach Leumi), but their request was rejected because they did not produce documentation regarding payments they had received from the PA.
The PA generally pays substantial funds and grants substantial benefits to the families of Palestinians who Israel imprisons for terror-related crimes, sometimes referred to as “pay for slay.”
The issue causes serious disputes between Israel and the PA, both during peace talks and in periods when there are no negotiations.
More recently, the US passed the Taylor Force Act penalizing the PA for the pay for slay payments, and last week the International Criminal Court raised the possibility of probing the payments as a potential war crime.
In contrast, the PA says that it makes the payments to support families who are innocent and have lost someone who was often the primary bread winner, even if the prisoner himself is guilty.
Quietly, the PA also sometimes acknowledges that it makes the payment to retain the loyalty of the Palestinian population since Hamas might otherwise step in to make the same payments.
When the NII rejected the family’s request, the family appealed to the Jerusalem Regional Labor Court, which also rejected the request.
This led the family to appeal to the National Labor Court, which asked Mandelblit for his legal opinion on the issue.
Mandelblit said that even though there is an understanding that the family will transfer the PA funds to the prisoner, once the funds get to the family, they have exclusive control of the funds and sometimes use them.
Furthermore, Mandelblit said that the very receipt of these funds from the PA for the terror-related activities of the prisoner violates Israeli law.
Based on these considerations, Mandelblit said the NII was correct to take the PA funds into account in deciding whether or not to grant economic support payments to the east Jerusalem family.
It is unclear when the court will issue its final ruling on the matter.