An opposition Israeli lawmaker, who served previously as a leader in Israel’s military, has touted the benefits of a new bill he’s spearheading that would cut funds to the Palestinian Authority that are used to support terrorism.
It will “save human lives,” said MK Elazar Stern, a member of the Yesh Atid party who introduced the bill, which passed a preliminary hearing at the Knesset on Monday, the first hurdle on the road to passage. He believes the bill will move forward to a first reading on Sunday.
The bill would deduct funds used by the PA to pay salaries to terrorists and their families from tax monies collected by Israel on behalf of the Palestinians.
Inspired by the similar Taylor Force Act currently before the US Congress, which would cut aid to the PA in accordance with its financial support for terrorism, Stern took the proposed law to major figures in government, the defense and intelligence establishments, the Knesset parties, and the IDF. They registered no objections, and the bill began its journey toward passage.
In an interview on Monday, Stern told the Algemeiner, “The idea was that we cannot continue the situation in which we collect money for the Palestinian Authority — and at the end of the day it’s their money, but they use it to encourage terror. We cannot allow them to encourage terror with their money.”
He called Israel’s current policy “direct encouragement for the next terror action.” Quoting former Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter, Stern said it is like “putting an M16 in their hands.”
The Palestinian Authority currently spends 1.1 billion shekels ($300 million) a year supporting terrorism, prisoners, and their families. This includes 488 million shekels ($140 million) for terrorists held in Israel jails and 660 million shekels ($187 million) for families of dead and imprisoned terrorists.
Terrorists in Israeli jails are given higher salaries depending on the length of their sentences, ranging from 1,400-12,000 shekels ($400-3,400), thus providing an incentive for committing the most deadly attacks possible.
Stern notes that his bill enjoys massive support from nearly all the parties in the Knesset. “We are in the opposition,” he noted, “Zionist Union is in the opposition. It’s not including the Arab parties and Meretz, only they are not there.”
Asked whether, as some have claimed, the bill could destabilize the security situation and even the PA itself, Stern responded, “I discussed this issue with all the high level people and my bill is after that. Maybe for a while it can cause something, but in the end of the day it will save human lives.”
The bill is heavily backed by groups representing victims of terrorism and their families. According to a press statement, these include the Koby Mandel Foundation, the Forum of Bereaved Families, the Choosing Life Forum, the Forum of American Victims of Palestinian Terror, as well as private individuals.
Stern believes this support is essential, saying, “It’s important for us to realize the price” of terrorism and “it’s important to hear” those who have suffered as a result of Palestinian violence, especially as many of these terrorists are even now receiving financial support from the PA.
One of the bereaved survivors, Shai Maimon, who helped start the campaign for the bill, stated, “It is unconscionable that Israel supports terror through the collection and transfer of more than NIS 1 billion each year to the PA that is being used as a reward and incentive for the murder of Israeli citizens. The very weapon used to murder my friend Malachi Rosenfeld, z”l, and to injure me, was paid for with PA money given each month as a stipend to a terrorist that was released from prison – all under Israel’s auspices.”
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