The security cabinet voted to withhold more than half a billion shekels from the Palestinian Authority on Sunday to compensate for the PA’s payments to terrorists and their families last year.
The NIS 600 million ($176 million) the government voted to freeze will come from tax funds Israel collects on behalf of the PA.
According to Kan, NIS 600 million will be paid in monthly installments over the next year.
In 2018, Israel passed a law requiring the government to withhold an estimated equivalent of what the PA pays to Palestinian terrorists and their families. Although it is required by law, the security cabinet must periodically vote to approve this action.
While popular among Israelis who oppose the PA’s terrorism-fueling “pay-to-kill” system, the law is believed to be potentially destabilizing for the perennially cash-strapped Palestinian Authority. Israel has offered in the past Loans to Palestinians To keep the PA standing and prevent it from completely disintegrating.
Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz of Guercin’s Meretz party abstained from Sunday’s vote, according to Kan, citing sources who say he opposes the measure.
Israel has long accused the Palestinian Authority of encouraging terrorism and militancy by publicly honoring attackers and paying stipends to their families if they are killed or imprisoned in Israeli prisons.
Labor leader Merav Michaeli told the Cabinet that the Palestinian Authority is ready to stop these payments, which are not only very unpopular in Israel but also in the United States and Europe, which promote terrorism.
“I know the PA is ready to stop payments to terrorists and their families, so we can stop these compensation measures,” he said.
Alternative Prime Minister Naftali Bennett responded: “If they want to stop payments, they should. There is nothing to talk about.”
Michaeli insisted that they are ready, but such a move by the PA depends on peace talks.
“I know they are ready. We have to hold diplomatic talks with them and this will be a part of it,” he said.
The decision of the Cabinet of Ministers immediately drew criticism from Palestinian officials, who called it a “financial blockade” on the Palestinian economy. PA officials have similarly criticized Israel’s policy in the past.
“The occupation government continues its financial piracy on Palestinian funds and decides to allocate hundreds of millions of shekels to further strengthen the policy of financial blockade and steal our money in addition to the daily escalation in our towns, villages and cities. camps and the legalization of our bloodshed”, – the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization General Secretary Hussein al-Sheikh said.
Last week, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called the fathers of two Palestinian militants He was martyred in the shootout with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank and expressed his condolences.
Israel’s Channel 12 said the phone call was seen by the unpopular Abbas as an opportunity to make some domestic political gains – hence its recording and distribution on Palestinian social media.
Nevertheless, the current Israeli government has taken steps to ensure close coordination with the Palestinian Authority.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Abbas at a meeting in Ramallah earlier this month discussed issues related to security coordination.
A day later, President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Yair Lapid He had a telephone conversation with AbbasIt was believed to be the first direct call between the Israeli prime minister and the PA chief in five years.