Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz continues to flout Israeli law and transfer money to the Palestinian Authority, according to the Jerusalem-based Kohelet Policy Forum. The problem, according to Kohelet, is that Israeli law prohibits money transfers to the PA because of its “pay to kill” policy that rewards Palestinian terrorists with money for killing Israelis.
According to Israeli law, any tax payment withheld by Israel from the PA must deduct the amount the PA paid the previous year to the terrorists or their families. These payments, colloquially known as “pay for slay,” are fixed pensions paid by the PA to terrorists, including Israeli citizens, as direct compensation for killing Jews. The amount of the payment is determined by the number of people killed in the attack and the severity of the terrorist’s sentence.
During his December meeting with PA chief Mahmoud Abbas, Gantz promised NIS 100 million ($31.5 million) as an advance on future taxes that Israel would transfer to the PA.
Kohelet sent a request to Gantz on January 16 under Israel’s freedom of information law, asking for information and details about his agreement to transfer such large sums to the PA.
“While Gantz calls the loans payment, they don’t appear to have interest or repayment terms, making them gifts prohibited by Israeli law,” Ariel Erlich, head of Kohelet’s litigation department, told the time.
Now, Kohelet has announced that he’s finally received a response to his January request.
In what Kohelet described as a “cryptic response”, the Treasury said it had “made a deduction according to law”.
The problem, according to Kohelet, is that ministry officials have not explained how the “advance payments” and “loans” comply with the law. Moreover, they did not offer any legal source that could justify this policy.
“As Israel faces a new wave of terror, it is absurd to see our own government appear to be circumventing Israeli law to send silent money to the Palestinian Authority,” Erlich said. “We call on the government to explain how Gantz could transfer funds to Palestinians as they continue to pay to kill.”
Professor Eugene Kontorovich, director of Kohelet’s Department of International Law, told JNS that “one of Israel’s greatest diplomatic achievements was the passage by the United States of the Taylor Force Act, which prohibits the American money to go to the Palestinian Authority as long as they maintain a salary for the murder. When Israel breaks its own law along the same lines, it undermines this pillar of American support for Israel. »
According to Kohelet, “transferring funds as an ‘advance’ or ‘loan’, or labeling them with another name, cannot allow what the law prohibits, and does not confer on anyone, including a minister in Israel, authority to transfer funds. .”
“The PA and Hamas continue to stir up terror and hatred”
This is not the first time that Israel has circumvented its own laws to support the PA
In 2020, Israel transferred 800 million shekels (over $225 million) as a loan to the PA to help it deal with the financial effects of COVID-19 as a down payment on those revenues tax.
And in September, Gantz held a meeting in Ramallah with Abbas to discuss a NIS 500 million ($160 million) loan to the PA, even as it continues to pay salaries to terrorists and their families.
Yossi Kuperwasser, director of the Middle East Regional Developments Project at the Jerusalem Public Affairs Center, accused Abbas of being “responsible for much of the incitement, including his insistence on paying salaries to terrorists arrested and monthly allowances to the families of the victims killed”. The Terrorists.”
While the Israeli government “wanted to believe” and “convince itself” that it could buy silence, Kuperwasser said, particularly during the sensitive period of religious and nationalist holidays in April and May, “it misses the essential”.
The PA and Hamas, as well as elements of the Israeli Arab leadership, “do not fully control terrorist threats”, he said.
“More worryingly,” Kuperwasser said, “the PA and Hamas continue to stir up terror and hatred, and Hamas calls for terror in areas not under its control, including by Arabs in Judea and Samaria and Israel”.
According to Kuperwasser, the current terrorist wave, which has so far seen 11 people murdered in just one week, “appears to stem from continued incitement by the PA and other terror groups; the Islamists’ increased devotion to Ramadan; nationalist emotions on “Earth Day”; inspiration from the “success” of the initial attacks; and growing frustration with the marginalization of the Palestinian issue on the international and regional stages.
Maurice Hirsch, director of legal strategies at Palestinian Media Watch, told JNS that “there is clear evidence that the Israeli government is illegally transferring money to the Palestinian Authority. The government violated Israel’s anti-pay-for-slay law both by transferring funds that had already been seized and by failing to make additional seizures required by law.
“Furthermore,” he said, “the government appears to have provided additional funds, claiming on the one hand that it is entitled to do so under the laws implementing the Oslo Accords, while while simultaneously asserting on the other hand that the details of these allegedly legitimate transfers are secret.
“The main thing,” he said, “is a harsh accusation against Prime Minister Naftali Bennet’s government. Not only do they help the PA reward terrorism – reward terrorist murderers – but they do so in a way that violates both the letter and the spirit of the law.
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