Israel to withhold $138m from Palestinians over prisoner payments

18th February, 2019 10:32:01 printer

JERUSALEM: Israel said its security cabinet on Sunday decided to withhold $138 million (122 million euros) in tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority over its payments to prisoners jailed for attacks on Israelis, reports AFP.

A statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the withheld cash would be equal to that paid by the PA last year to “terrorists imprisoned in Israel, to their families and to released prisoners”.

Israel alleges the payments encourage further violence. The PA says the payments are a form of welfare to the families who have lost their main breadwinner and denies it is seeking to encourage violence.

Many Palestinians view prisoners and those killed while carrying out attacks as heroes in their conflict with Israel. Palestinian leaders often venerate them as martyrs. 

Senior Palestine Liberation Organisation official Ahmed Majdalani accused Israel and the United States, which has cut hundreds of millions of dollars in Palestinian aid, of an attempt at blackmail.

US President Donald Trump’s White House is expected to release its long-awaited peace plan later this year that the Palestinians believe will be blatantly biased in favour of Israel.

The Palestinians cut off contact with the White House after Trump’s 2017 declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.