Readers may recall that last July Israel’s Knesset passed a law relating to the Palestinian Authority’s payments to terrorists and their families.
“The Knesset voted into law on Monday a bill to slash funds to the Palestinian Authority by the amount Ramallah pays out to convicted terrorists and the families of Palestinians killed while carrying out attacks.
The bipartisan law passed by 87 to 15. […]
The bill says that welfare payments paid out by the PA to Palestinian prisoners and their relatives, as well as the families of slain attackers, must be deducted from tax revenues Israel transfers annually to the administrative body. The money withheld in this way would instead go into a fund designated to help victims of terror attacks.”
On February 27th the PA officially announced that it would refuse to accept the tax revenues due to be transferred after deduction of the relevant sum.
“The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday said it rejected its regular monthly tax transfer from Israel to protest an Israeli decision to deduct sums of money the Palestinians pay to imprisoned terrorists and terror suspects, as well as the families of those killed in attacks against Israelis. […]
Israel announced last week that it would withhold over $138 million in revenue, the amount Israeli officials calculate that the PA spends on the stipends. […]
The freeze of funds was expected to deal a dire financial blow to the cash-strapped Palestinian leadership, already weakened by recent US cuts of more than $200 million in bilateral aid. The authority expects it won’t be able to pay its employees’ full salaries. […]
Although the rejection of the funds is likely to hurt them, the Palestinians are hoping that the move will put pressure on Israel to reverse course. A collapse of the Palestinian Authority could lead to the end of security cooperation with Israel, and theoretically force Israel to assume responsibility over the more than 2 million Palestinians in the West Bank.”
Nevertheless, the PA also announced that salaries for terrorists would be paid as usual.
“The PA announced that following its refusal to accept any tax money from Israel, the PA’s public employees – the productive workers – will receive cuts in their salary. However not everyone will have to take a pay cut. The unproductive terrorists who are sitting in jail will receive their full monthly salaries:
“PA Minister of Finance Shukri Bishara announced that the [PA] government will pay the salaries of the public employees on time, but they are likely to be partial, other than the pension stipends and the allowances (mukhassasat) of the families of the Martyrs, the wounded, and the prisoners, which will be paid in full.” [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Feb. 22, 2019]
The Minister of Finance further announced that both public employees and the private sector – “those whose salaries are higher” – will have to “make sacrifices”.”
That policy reflects a statement made by Mahmoud Abbas late last year.
“I say this to everyone – the salaries of our Martyrs, prisoners, and wounded are a red line. They [Israel] try by all means, and exert pressure by all means, and they continue to exert: “It cannot be that you will pay.” And they’ll even deduct our money that’s in their hands. They’ll deduct from it the amount that we pay to the Martyrs. We have said that this is a red line and we will not allow [it]. From 1965 until now, this matter is sacred to us. The Martyrs and their families are sacred, [and so are] the wounded and the prisoners. We must pay all of them. If one penny remains in our hands it is for them and not for the living.” [Official PA TV, Oct. 28, 2018]
Given that in the past we have seen that the BBC’s interest in stories relating to Palestinian Authority finances does not include those concerning the PA’s deliberate own goals, it is not surprising that to date BBC audiences have heard nothing of this story.