Israel to Again Withhold Payments to Palestinians over Terror Stipends
Israel’s Cabinet has approved Defense Minister Naftali Bennett’s proposal to halt the transfer of a portion of the taxes and tariffs collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. While Jerusalem remits to Ramallah about $200 million every month, it will begin deducting approximately $40 million from each installment – the rough equivalent of the sum the PA pays in monthly “salaries” to jailed Palestinians and to the families of those killed while perpetrating terrorist attacks against Israelis. Israel has over the years repeatedly implemented this policy, including in the wake of the PA’s previous signing of a series of reconciliation agreements with Hamas (which never materialized). However, the Jewish state has always eventually backtracked, primarily over concern that the PA’s financial collapse would lead to the emergence of Hamas in the West Bank, parts of which border central population centers such as the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. Earlier this year, US President Donald Trump cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for projects in the Palestinian territories, prompting dire warnings from Ramallah. Amid the cash crunch, Israel reportedly had to beg the Palestinian leadership to accept more than $500 million, some of which had been specifically withheld over the PA’s so-called “pay-for-slay” program. The PA had refused to accept the much larger remainder in an all-or-nothing approach.