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PA PM responds to Israeli cut to PA tax money over terror salaries as "a theft of the general Palestinian money, and a crime of an international nature"
Facebook page of PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah - Feb. 17, 2019
Text posted on the Facebook page of PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah
"The law on deducting the allowances of the prisoners and wounded from the tax money, which the Israeli Parliament ratified last June , and which the Israeli [Security] Cabinet ratified a short time ago (refers to implementation of Israeli law to deduct terrorist salaries from PA tax money; see note below –Ed.), is nothing but a continuation of the racist Israeli legislation… and the collapse of the two-state solution and every opportunity to establish an independent and sovereign Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital.
This is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention (see note below –Ed.) and of the international conventions, and a violation of the interim agreement [of the Oslo Accords] that was signed in September 1995 by Israel and the PLO (see note below –Ed.). Therefore, putting hands on this money and holding onto it is considered a theft of the general Palestinian money, and a crime of an international nature.
The Israeli deduction from the Palestinian tax money, which is our people’s revenues and resources and the property of the public coffers according to the signed agreements, is made in the context of collective punishments that Israel implements, and an open war that it is waging against the Palestinian people and its leadership, in order to strangle and extort as part of a plan to destroy the [Palestinian] National Authority and to deprive it of the ability to continue to provide services and fulfill its obligations towards its citizens.
The taking of the tax money places the Palestinian economy in a circle of danger, and threatens our ability to keep up with the payment of the [public] employees' salaries on time, and this will stop the wheels of the economy.
However, we again emphasize that we will not exchange our rights and firm positions for money, and we are prepared for all scenarios if the Israeli government carries out its threats.
I again emphasize the words of His Honor [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas that the payment of the money to the prisoners and Martyrs' families is our responsibility, not a gift or grant but rather an inseparable part of the social contract between the state and its citizens, and it is part of the social solidarity and protection…
We will certainly be with the prisoners and with their families and behind them in their just battle, until the release of all of them, without any conditions or restrictions. This is our position and we will not retreat from it.
International society must act seriously in light of these threats, and force Israel to stop using our money as a means of punishment. We also call to renew and activate the Arab financial security net, in order to enable our people and its leadership to come out against these punitive steps, and in order to prevent more suffering and oppression for our people."
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Israel's Anti-"Pay for Slay" Law - Israeli law stating that the PA payments to terrorists and the families of dead terrorists is a financial incentive to terror. The law instructs the state to deduct and freeze the amount of money the PA pays in salaries to imprisoned terrorists and families of "Martyrs" from the tax money Israel collects for the PA. Should the PA stop these payments for a full year, the Israeli government would have the option of giving all or part of the frozen money to the PA.
The law was enacted by the Israeli Parliament on July 2, 2018, and its first implementation was approved by Israel's Security Cabinet on Feb. 17, 2019, when it decided to withhold 502,697,000 Israeli shekels (approximately $138 million) from the PA. In response, the PA announced it would not accept any of the tax money collected by Israel unless it also included the frozen amount.
During the initial parliamentary vote in 2018, the law's sponsor Avi Dichter said: “The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee received much help in its deliberations... from Palestinian Media Watch who provided us with authentic data that enabled productive and professional deliberations, nuances that are very difficult to achieve without precise data.” [Israeli Parliament website, July 2, 2018]
PA claim that Israeli law to deduct PA tax revenues breaches the Fourth Geneva Convention - The PA claims that Israel's law to deduct the amount of the PA’s payments to terrorists and their families from taxes Israel collects for the PA (passed on July 2, 2018) breaches the Fourth Geneva Convention (GCIV). This is incorrect, as it applies only to “internees,” and not to terrorists who are standing trial, convicted, or released from prison, and likewise not to the families of dead terrorists. The only “internees” held by Israel are Palestinian terrorists held in administrative detention in accordance with Article 78 of GCIV, and Israel fulfills all its obligations vis-a-vis these “internees.”
PA claim that Israeli law to deduct PA tax revenues breaches the Oslo Accords - The 1995 Oslo Accords adopted the 1994 Protocol on Economic Relations between Israel and the PLO, provided that Israel would collect certain taxes (import duties, V.A.T., and income tax in certain circumstances) from Palestinians and transfer them to the PA. This was conditional on the PA upholding its commitments to combat terrorism and incitement, among other things.
The legality of the Israeli law to deduct the amount of the PA’s payments to terrorists and their families from taxes Israel collects for the PA (passed on July 2, 2018) was discussed by the Israeli Parliament Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, and the clear conclusion was that even if the new legislation contravened terms of the Oslo Accords, the PA’s using a portion of this tax money to pay salaries to imprisoned and released terrorists and allowances to the families of dead terrorists is a direct breach of numerous provisions of the Oslo Accords, making the freezing of this money legal.
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