A bill meant to discourage the Palestinian Authority from continuing to pay terrorists can go to a final vote, after the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee authorized it on Monday.
The legislation requires the government to deduct the amount that the Palestinian Authority pays terrorists from the taxes and tariffs Israel collects for the PA, and is backed by MKs from the coalition and much of the opposition.
The PA paid terrorists over a billion shekels ($280 million) in 2017, upping the amount to over NIS 1.4 billion ($390 million) in its 2018 budget, according to a Defense Ministry report based on the PA’s budget.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the bill’s passage, and said it will be used to pay damages for fields destroyed by Gazans launching incendiary kites into Israel. “Justice should be done here. Whoever burns fields should know it has a price.”
“This bill fixes a historic injustice,” according to Yesh Atid MK Elazar Stern, who proposed the legislation. “This is a bill that will reduce terrorism.”
The committee voted for Stern’s version of the bill, which mandates the deduction with no options for flexibility, as opposed to the Defense Ministry’s draft, which sought to allow the government to decide each year how much the deduction should be – or whether to make the deduction at all – based on diplomatic and other considerations.
The amount deducted will be invested in a fund to pay damages to victims of terror, among other things.
Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Avi Dichter (Likud) said that the panel made history. “Israel will no longer be a pipeline for transferring money to terrorists.”
The average income of a working Palestinian in the West Bank is $580 (about NIS 2,100) per month, according to the Defense Ministry, which is what the PA pays terrorists who are sentenced to three to five years in prison. Terrorists sentenced to 20 years or more – those who committed more severe crimes, and likely were involved in killing Israelis – receive five times that amount each month, for the rest of their lives.
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