Israeli law freezes PA funds over stipends to detainees

Israeli law freezes PA funds over stipends to detainees

JERUSALEM (Rahnuma) The Knesset (Israeli Parliament) has passed a bill that would allow cutting funds to the Palestinian Authority (PA) by the amount it pays to detainees and families of those killed by Israeli forces.

By 87-15 votes, the controversial bill was approved in the second and third readings during a session held late Monday.

Under the law, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman would provide annual data on the money paid by the PA to prisoners and families of the martyrs to be deducted from Palestinian tax revenues.

The withheld money would instead go into a fund designated to help victims of attacks carried out by Palestinians.

The law was quickly condemned by the Palestinian government, which reiterated commitment to helping prisoners in Israeli jails and families of those killed by Israeli forces.

Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat, for his part, described the Israeli law as “theft and piracy”.

“The Palestinian Authority is responsible for all Palestinians, including the families of prisoners and martyrs as part of a social assistance program,” Erekat, the secretary of the umbrella Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said in a statement.

Arab MK Ahmed Tibi decried the Israeli law as an “armed robbery” of Palestinian money.

“You can pass whatever racist and extremist laws you want. You can usurp the rights, rape the land and burn our children. But we remind you of what we say and believe: You will never be able to break the will of the Palestinian people living under occupation who are aspiring for their freedom,” Tibi told the Knesset.

Under the Oslo Accords, signed in 1993 between Israel and the PLO, Israel collects around $175 million every month in taxes on Palestinian imports and exports on behalf of the PA.

Tax revenue represents the PA’s main source of income.

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