Israel blocks $ 138 million for Palestinians

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on December 2, 2018. – Gali Tibbon / AP / SIPA

Israel will freeze 138 million dollars (122 million euros) that it had to pay to the Palestinian Authority to protest against the allowances that it gives to the families of Palestinian prisoners who have been attacked, said Sunday the office of the Prime Minister.

According to the Israeli authorities, this amount corresponds to the 2018 payments made by the Palestinian Authority to "imprisoned terrorists, their families and former detainees". The Israeli government must regularly pay the Palestinian Authority VAT and customs duties on products imported by Palestinians.

But in July 2018, the Israeli parliament passed a law to freeze these payments up to the amount of allowances granted by the Palestinian Authority to the perpetrators of anti-Israeli attacks and their families.

These prisoners are considered by Palestinians as heroes

It had never been implemented but last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his intention to do so after the murder of a young Israeli by a Palestinian in Jerusalem. "This is an important law that we will enforce as I promised," Netanyahu said before the cabinet decision, according to a statement from his office.

The Palestinian Authority headed by Mahmoud Abbas pays allowances to the families of Palestinians detained by Israel according to the sentences handed down to them by the Jewish state.

These prisoners are indeed considered by many Palestinians as heroes in the struggle against the Israeli occupation of their territories. Israel has occupied the West Bank and Jerusalem since 1967.

President Abbas has repeatedly emphasized that support for families of prisoners and "martyrs" "is a national, humanitarian and social duty that must always be fulfilled regardless of Israeli and international pressure." Israeli officials believe that these benefits encourage violence.

According to the law passed in 2018 by Israel, the Minister of Defense presents to the cabinet at the end of the year a report on the amounts paid by the Palestinian Authority to Palestinian prisoners and their families in the past year.

Criticism of the Palestinian presidency

The following year, Israel will freeze every month 1/12 of the amount reported in the report on taxes and duties that it owes to the Palestinians. In the event that the Minister of Defense announces that the Palestinian Authority ceases to pay these allowances, the cabinet may decide to partially or completely thaw the funds withheld.

The Palestinian presidency on Sunday criticized this measure as a usurpation of the money of the Palestinian people. The spokesman of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Abu Rudeina, said in a statement that "this arbitrary Israeli decision unilaterally violates the signed agreements including the Paris agreements"

"The position of the President as he has always stated is that we will not accept any damage to the livelihoods of our captive heroes and the families of martyrs and wounded." "The (Israeli) occupation government is trying to destroy the Palestinian Authority in partnership with Donald Trump's US administration," Ahmed Majdalani, an official with the Palestine Liberation Organization, said in a statement. (PLO), an internationally recognized entity representing Palestinians.