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Israeli anti-'Pay-for-slay' law discussed on PA TV

Official PA TV program The Economic Magazine, on the Israeli Anti "Pay-for-Slay" Law, hosting economic analyst Samir Huleileh

Economic analyst Samir Huleileh: "According to what the relevant bodies - the [PA] Ministry of Finance, and of course various bodies within the Palestinian [PA] government and the national [Palestinian] Authority - have  announced, they have discussed different steps, some of which relate to restraining the [government] spending – but the more important and urgent part for them is receiving funding, short-term loans from the local Palestinian mercantile banks, of an amount that can make up for what has been deducted. However, I think that what has been stated until now does not reach the level of strategic vision… As I said, regarding the 500 million shekels, the local banks can loan them. However, now it is possible to speak somewhat in detail about the matter of the local banks' ability and the [PA] Monetary Authority’s ability to cover the existing deficit. In my estimation, we will be able to cover the 500 [million shekels] in the short term, but we will not be able to- the local banks will not be able [to cover it in the long-term], and it is also not right to pressure the Monetary Authority and the local banks, because the scope of loans taken has now reached 8 to 8.5 billion, which is the general scope of loans taken from the banks, while the deposits reach 12 billion – that is a high percentage. 1.3 billion out of 8.5 billion is the government's, [while] the government officials owe a huge amount that is almost 3 billion. Therefore an extensive and large risk is automatically created for the banks if they loan the government officials and the government an amount that exceeds half of the amount that the local banks are loaning. Given the lack of clear evidence, can you return [the loans] after five or eight months? Do you have other sources that have been guaranteed to you? Is there a commitment from international bodies to pay off [the debt]?

I will give examples of what can be done: First of all, in order to pressure Israel regarding this decision, and second to restrain the [government] spending, which is the essential and fundamental issue. Thirty-eight percent of our average spending on salaries goes to the [PA] Security Forces. Israel as well as the US claim that it is very important to have capable security forces in the Palestinian Authority, which can at least provide guarantees of stability within the authority's territory, specifically in the West Bank. I think that at the moment this is where we should press. Honestly, whoever wants security must pay for it, but not to pay money and to say ‘spend your own money - instead of us spending on education we will spend on security, instead of spending money on the economy to spend on security. OK, why should I spend 38% of my budget on security that doesn't completely serve me? I’m not saying it serves Israel, but I’m saying that it doesn’t completely serve me… Americans and Israelis, [if] you want security and stability in this region, it costs money and is not free. And it is not the Palestinian citizens’ responsibility to pay a price for this matter with their blood and flesh… In my opinion, any amount that is deducted from the Palestinian tax money must be immediately deducted from the budgets allocated to the Palestinian Security [Forces]… not because we are diminishing their importance and role – stability is also a Palestinian interest. In my opinion, this is the sensitive point. This is the point that must be brought to [the attention of] Israel and the Americans."

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]
 

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