Israeli lawmakers advanced a bill on Monday, May 7, that will allow the government to hold up tax revenue due the Palestinian Authority (PA) over its payments to “convicted terrorists.” “We’re shutting off the tap on Abu Mazen,” tweeted far-right Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, referring to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas by his nickname.
The bill, which passed its first reading by a vote of 55-14, would leave the government’s top-level security cabinet with the final say on whether to “freeze” transfer payments to the PA to offset the stipends it pays to the families of Palestinian prisoners.
The Palestinian Authority announced on Friday, May 4, that it intends to file a legal case against Israel at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for its crimes against the Palestinian prisoners. In response to attacks by Israeli authorities against Palestinian prisoners, head of the Prisoners Commission, Issa Qaraqe, told Voice of Palestine radio on Monday that going to the ICC is part of a policy that should be adopted by the Palestinian Authority generally and will involve securing the legal status of the prisoners in addition to responding diplomatically and through the media to the offensive campaigns targeting prisoners’ struggles.
Qaraqe said Lieberman’s statements and threats to deduct stipends provided by the PA to the families of prisoners from the tax revenues Israel collects on behalf of the PA will grievously harm the situation of the prisoners and increase racist measures against them.
In the Knesset debate before Monday’s vote, Hadash lawmaker Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint List) told the Knesset plenum that the draft of the bill being proposed was a result of agitation by senior Israeli officials in order to be able to accuse Palestinian Authority of financing “terrorism” and to steal Palestinian money.