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Smotrich Signs Order to Pay Seized Palestinian Tax Revenue to Israeli Victims’ Families

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Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich defended the government’s decision to impose a series of sanctions on the Palestinian Authority on Sunday, asking reporters: “As long as [the PA] encourages terrorism, what’s my interest in helping it exist?”

The comment came at a press conference as he signed an order to take hundreds of millions of shekels in tax revenue confiscated from the Palestinian Authority and give the money to 15 families of Israelis killed in terror attacks.

“This creates significant deterrence,” Smotrich told reporters. “I project that our decision will open the way for more claims and indictments.”

The signing implemented a Friday decision by the security cabinet that was part of a series of sanctions against the PA. According to the decision, Israel will hand 139 million shekels ($39.6 million) of the funds it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.

The transfer of the money to the families follows a Jerusalem District Court ruling from June, which awarded them damages totaling around 130 million shekels.

In his remarks, Smotrich rejected the possibility of international criticism of the move. “This is a trivial and obvious matter,” he said. “Opposition to the fact that the authority pays salaries to the families of terrorists is completely accepted by the international community.”

The power to confiscate the PA’s tax revenue comes from a 2018 law that allows the government to withhold a sum equal to around half of the sum the PA paid to Palestinian prisoners and their families that year.

Israel collects the tax funds for the PA in accordance with the Paris Protocol, the economic appendix to the Oslo Accords. The agreement authorized Israel to collect import duties for goods intended for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and hand over the funds to the PA.

The imposition of sanctions on Friday came as a punitive response to the PA’s recent successful UN initiative asking the International Court of Justice at The Hague to form an opinion regarding the legal implications of the occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

According to Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, the step was meant to “exact a price” following the diplomatic initiative at the UN seeking an ICJ opinion.

Article link:
Article source: Haaretz | Jonathan Lis | Jan 8, 2023

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000

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