Israel enacted a law on Monday to financially penalize the Palestinian Authority for paying stipends to Palestinians jailed by Israel, their families, and the families of those killed by Israeli forces.
The 120-seat parliament voted 87-15 in favor of the legislation that orders holding back part of the roughly $130 million in tax revenues that Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinians each month under interim peace agreements.
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly demanded that the Palestinians, who view prisoners as national heroes, stop paying stipends to them and their families.
Israel says the payments are a reward and encouragement for the prisoners’ actions against it but the Palestinians say they are welfare payments to support them and their families.
Israel enacts law to freeze Palestinian funds equal to prisoners' stipends: JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel enacted a law on Monday to financially penalize the Palestinian Authority for paying stipends to Palestinians jailed by Israel, their families, and… https://t.co/m3iZogrLod pic.twitter.com/E7hCWGQ6aJ
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Palestinian officials say that some 6,500 Palestinians are currently being held in Israeli jails.
Youssef Al-Mahmoud, the spokesman of the Palestinian Authority government in Ramallah, condemned Israel’s move saying the money belongs to the Palestinians and Israel has no right to hold it back and is violating signed agreements.
“This money belongs to the Palestinian people and this is legislation to steal the money of the prisoners and the martyrs who are symbols of freedom for us and they must not be harmed.”
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Earlier this year, US lawmakers enacted legislation to sharply reduce the annual $300 million in US aid to the Palestinian Authority unless it took steps to stop making what lawmakers described as payments that reward violent crime.
The measure, known as the Taylor Force Act, was named after a 29-year-old American military veteran fatally stabbed by a Palestinian while visiting Israel in 2016.
U.S. quietly freezes aid to Palestinians under Taylor Force Act, reports Israeli news https://t.co/JS1xPsENZK
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Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman wrote on Twitter after the vote:
“We promised to halt the stipend free-for-all for terrorists and we have made good on our promise. It’s over. Every shekel that Abu Mazen (Abbas) will pay to terrorists and murderers will be automatically deducted from the Palestinian Authority’s budget.”
Also, Australia announced on Monday that it will stop direct aid to Palestine following objections from ministers over prisoners’ payments.
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According to a senior member of Fatah’s Executive Committee, Australia’s decision to halt aid to Palestinians came after America and Israel put pressure on it to do so, the Anadolu Agency reported.
In a statement, Ahmed Majdalani said:
“Australia halted its aid to the Palestinians as part of a campaign launched to smear the Palestinian leadership.”
(MEMO, PC, Social Media)