Israel To Begin Withholding Funds From Palestinians Over ‘Pay-for-slay’ Policy
The Israeli government will begin withholding taxes and tariffs collected on behalf of and distributed to the Palestinian Authority equal to the amount Ramallah pays to terrorists and their families. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced that the “necessary staff work will be completed by next week to implement” the Deduction Law passed by parliament last year, adding that “on Sunday I will convene the security cabinet and we will make the necessary decision to offset the funds.” The move comes after Arafat Irfayia confessed to last Thursday’s murder of Israeli teenager Ori Ansbacher in a forest located on the outskirts of Jerusalem. The act of terrorism sparked public outrage and prompted calls for Israel to stop sending money to Mahmoud Abbas’ West Bank-based administration so long as it continues its so-called “pay-for-slay” policy that critics contend promotes violence by rewarding Palestinian attacks. PA officials asserted that if Israel withholds the funds—an estimated $300 million annually—then Ramallah will not accept any of the roughly $100 million transferred to it each month under the terms of the 1993 Oslo Accords. This raises the specter of a major budgetary shortfall as the PA already is hamstrung by the cut-off of hundreds of millions of dollars in American aid. The Deduction Law is opposed by elements of Israel’s defense establishment that fear a financial crisis in the PA could manifest in reduced security cooperation and the destabilization of the West Bank.