Palestinians have voiced opposition and are planning a wave of protests in the coming days in response to a recently passed law by Israel’s parliament that slashes funds to the Palestinian Authority by the amount Ramallah pays out to Palestinian security prisoners and those who died in clashes, as well as their families, Palestinian political analysts told The Media Line.
In a move to “reduce attacks carried out by Palestinians,” Israel on Wednesday passed a bill that deducts taxes and tariffs that it collects on behalf of the PA in amounts equivalent to what the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) pays Palestinians in prisons and their next-of-kin.
Every month, Israel collects about $130 million in tax and tariff revenues on behalf of the PA. The Palestinian Ministry of Finance has admitted that its transfers NIS 100 million (roughly $27.5 million) to help families in cases when the primary breadwinner is incarcerated or has been killed. According to the new law, the PA is violating the Oslo Accords by transferring funds to these families.
PA spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh strongly condemned the Israeli law and said the PA considers it law a “red-line,” emphasizing that its implementation would lead to “a harsh Palestinian reaction.”
“The Palestinian presidency strongly rejects this severe decision, which damages the foundations of relations since the Oslo Agreement to this day,” Rudeineh said.
“This issue is tantamount to declaring war on the Palestinian people, its fighters, its prisoners and its fatalities. The Israeli government must back down from its decision so that we don’t reach a dangerous, dead,” he concluded.
“[The new Israeli law] will affect the Palestinian economy enormously,” Azmi Abdul Rahman, the PA’s Ministry of Economy spokesman, told The Media Line. He explained that the Palestinian economy is 75 percent dependent on Israel’s economy, as well as on aid money.
“The Palestinian economy is under occupation. Israel controls 90% of economic resources in Area C,” Rahman said. “It will negatively impact the Palestinian economy and the government’s ability to pay salaries in the coming months,” he added.
An economic analyst who spoke to The Media Line on the condition of anonymity said: “This will put tremendous pressure on the economy since the government employs 22% of the population. This, in turn, will also impact security issues.”
Yousef Jabareen, a Knesset member from the Joint List, a predominantly Arab political party, told The Media Line that the Israeli move amounts to stealing as the funds deducted come from the Palestinian people. “This is yet another colonial law by the occupation government,” he added.
“The new law aims to suppress the Palestinian people and consolidate Israel’s occupation of Palestine,” Jabareen said, adding that it also violates Palestinian human rights and international agreements.
“What does it mean for Israel to pass a law that contradicts its international obligations… They first stole by force the land and natural resources, and now they steal by fiat Palestinian money.”
Gad Shimron, an Israeli political analyst, told The Media Line that Palestinian attacks have shifted Israeli public opinion and as a result, the government was compelled to do more to prevent them. “Imagine an Israeli terrorist who killed Palestinian children and then gets a salary from the government for what he did. How would the Palestinians feel about that?”
A Palestinian woman from a village in the southern West Bank told The Media Line that she is raising three children on her own after her husband died in a 2014 protest at the entrance of their village. “I don’t know how we are going to make it,” she said, adding that they depended on money from Fatah—the Palestinian nationalist political party and the largest faction in the PA—to feed her kids and send them to school.
Danny Ayalon, an Israeli diplomat and columnist, does not view see the Israeli move as a form of collective punishment, adding that the law is designed “to put pressure on the PA to stop encouraging terrorism by paying for it.”
He told The Media Line that the PA would have no choice but to accept the reduction in taxes and tariffs. As an alternative source of funds, he concluded, the law will likely encourage the PA to turn to Arab countries for more donations.