After initially refusing to accept any tax revenues Israel collected and transfered to the Palestinian Authority because Israel implemented its anti-"Pay-for-Slay" law, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has now capitulated and agreed to accept the vast majority of the funds.
In February 2019, Israel's cabinet decided to implement one part of the 2018 anti-"Pay-for-Slay" law and started to deduct the sum the PA spent in 2018 paying salaries to terrorist prisoners and released prisoners from the 2019 tax revenues Israel collects and transfers to the PA.
Initially, rejecting Israel's implementation of the anti-"Pay-for-Slay" law, because he argued that paying financial rewards to Palestinian terrorists is legitimate, Abbas refused to accept the money Israel tranfered and plunged the PA into a self-made financial crisis
"[PA] Minister of Civil Affairs [and Fatah Central Committee member] Hussein Al-Sheikh said yesterday [Feb. 10, 2019] that he has conveyed an official message at the request of [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas that emphasizes that 'He will refuse to receive the collected [tax] money if Israel deducts even one penny from it.'"
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Feb. 11, 2019]
When he made that decision, Palestinian Media Watch
speculated that Abbas was probably planning to use the ensuing impoverishment of the Palestinian population as a tactic to put pressure on Israel to transfer to him the money he uses to reward terror. PMW also suggested that he was using the decision as a means to leverage the international community to put pressure on Israel to ignore its own laws. Abbas was also hoping that the international community would again side with the PA against Israel and further subsidize the PA.
Abbas' decision to accept the tax revenues, even though Israel continues to implement its anti-"Pay-for-Slay" law, reflects an understanding that all these goals have failed.
Despite the imminent collapse of the PA due to the self imposed financial crisis
, Israel remained steadfast. Every month since February, Israel has deducted about 41.8 million shekels from the tax revenues Israel collects and transfer to the PA. This sum represents one twelfth of the 502 million shekels PMW exposed
that the PA had admitted to spending on salaries to the terrorist prisoners and the released prisoners in 2018.
The international community, on the whole, also rejected the PA claims. While the EU continued to provide the PA with additional funding
, the principled response of the EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn accepted the argument PMW has been raising since exposing the PA Pay-for-Slay policy and said:
"We are all aware of the fiscal crisis the PA is facing and of the potential human, social and security consequences...At the same time, we do not support the system of Palestinian payments to 'prisoners and martyrs.'"
Seeing that both Israel and the international community were not going to bow to his manipulations and facing financial collapse, Abbas agreed in August to accept two billion shekels of the accrued revenues. So as to save face, PA Minister of Finance Shukri Bishara chose to lie to Palestinians by denying the PA's partial capitulation, and invented the story of an alternative reality
in which Israel had given in and agreed to waive the collection of the Blu taxes (Excise duties) imposed on PA fuel purchases via Israel.
This week, the PA agreed to accept an additional 1.5 billion shekels without attributing the sum to any other Israeli financial waiver. Having done that, the PA specifically decided to leave several hundred million shekels in Israel's possession so that it could continue to lie to its own people that it had not capitulated to Israel and declare publicly that the subject of the "Pay-for-Slay" deductions were still open to discussion with Israel.
Israel's anti-"Pay-for-Slay" law was passed in July 2018. 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" in one year from the tax money Israel collects and transfers to the PA in the following year. The deductions were to be made in 12 equal parts. 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.
While the anti-"Pay-for-Slay" law has not yet caused the PA to abandon its "Pay-for-Slay" policy, the fact that the PA is accepting the reduced tax revenues is a good step in the right direction.
"Pay-for-Slay" is the name that has been given to the policy of the PA to pay monthly salaries to terrorist prisoners and released prisoners and monthly allowances to wounded terrorists and the families of dead terrorists.