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PA demands Israel release Palestinian prisoners to protect them from Coronavirus; financial situation uncertain

Headline: "The [PA] government held an emergency meeting to discuss the budget and determine economic plans to deal with the state of emergency – Shtayyeh: We will not hesitate to make any decision or implement any measure that will guarantee the wellbeing of our people"

"[PA Prime Minister Muhammad] Shtayyeh said: 'A week has passed since we began to implement measures, and these were done in time and reduced the extent of the harm and prevented the spread of the Coronavirus…

He again called on the citizens to hold prayers at home and refrain from being in crowded places, and thanked all of our people for their understanding and cooperation in dealing with the epidemic, and also thanked all of the teams that are working day and night to protect our people.

The prime minister demanded that the occupation authorities release all of the prisoners, and particularly the sick among them, those sick with chronic illnesses, and the children, in order to protect their lives given the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Israel. He held the occupation authorities responsible for any harming of a prisoner by the illness.He called on the international authorities, the Red Cross, and the humanitarian organizations to visit the prisons and work for their release and to guarantee their wellbeing…

The prime minister said: 'This epidemic and dealing with it, and the continued deduction of the Martyrs and prisoners' money (refers to Israel's Anti "Pay-for-Slay" Law; see note below –Ed.),the reduction in the rate of production, and the reduction in income… will be expressed in local income, taxes, and international aid, and therefore will affect the 2020 budget.'

Shtayyeh thanked the merchants for the cooperation and for not raising the prices and exploiting the people's situation, and explained that we have no shortage of food products… and said: 'We are doing everything we can in order to assist all of our poor people and reach them in these difficult circumstances.’"

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. During the parliamentary vote, 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] In accordance with the law, as of September 2021 Israel’s Security Cabinet had ordered the freeze of 1.857 billion shekels ($580.15 million) - the sum equivalent to the PA payments to terrorists in 2018, 2019, and 2020.

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