JNS.org – The Israeli security cabinet decided on Sunday to put into effect a law passed in July to deduct half a billion shekels (approximately $138.2 million) from the annual tax revenues it transfers to the Palestinian Authority (PA) each year. The purpose of the laws — like its precursor, the Taylor Force Act, which was approved by the US Congress in May — is to coerce the PA to cease rewarding terrorists with hefty “pay-for-slay” stipends.
Initially, Israeli security officials opposed cutting the funds on the grounds that doing so could endanger security cooperation between Jerusalem and Ramallah, and lead to an escalation of terrorist attacks. But after 19-year-old Ori Ansbacher was raped and murdered earlier this month by a Palestinian wannabe “martyr for Allah,” public pressure on the government to crack down on the PA caused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to say that he would begin implementing the law to withhold funds as soon as he received the green light from the security cabinet, which he finally did.
The PA was quick to issue an incensed response.
“The Palestinian Authority views the approval of the decision to deduct funds as a robbery of the Palestinian people’s money and as a unilateral violation of the agreements signed between the two sides, such as the Paris agreement,” PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesman Abu Rudaina said in a statement. “This decision will have dangerous consequences on all levels.”
Rudaina was referring to the 1994 Protocol on Economic Relations, part of the Oslo Accords, a peace treaty that the Palestinians have used since then as an excuse to wage war.
Inverting reality by accusing Israel of violating agreements is par for the Palestinian course, so the PA’s current outrage at being told to stop remunerating Jew-killers was to be expected. It is ironic, however, that Abbas himself not only acknowledges paying terrorists for their service, but boasts about it.
In fact, when Israel passed the bill in July to withhold PA funds, Abbas announced: “Even if we have only a penny left, we will give it to the martyrs, the prisoners, and their families. We view the prisoners and the martyrs as planets and stars in the skies of the Palestinian struggle, and they have priority in everything.”
According to a report on Monday by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), which first revealed the exorbitant sums that the PA spends annually on terrorist prisoners, released prisoners, and families of dead terrorists, Abbas reiterated this message in October, declaring: “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.”
As if this weren’t proof enough that the PA leader and his henchmen consider the deaths of both Israelis and the terrorists who murder them more valuable than the lives of their people, Abbas conveyed an official message last week through his civil affairs minister that if Israel “deducts even one penny” from the tax revenues, he will refuse to receive any money at all.
Though this might sound like a peculiar, even childish, form of cutting off his nose to spite his face, it is actually a calculated move with two aims.
The first is to show the Palestinians that he is just as tough as his rival terrorist counterparts in Hamas when it comes to annihilating the Jewish state. The second is to arouse international condemnation of Israel for the financial plight of the Palestinian populace. He is likely to have greater success with the latter than the former.
Even more distressing is the fact that, with or without the funds to keep PA civil society afloat, the terrorists will continue to be in clover. It is a no-win situation both for Israel and any Palestinian who would prefer to earn a living than die in order to do so.
Ruthie Blum is an Israel-based journalist and author of To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the “Arab Spring”.
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Author: Ruthie Blum / JNS.org
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