Israel Penalizes Palestinians for Payments to Prisoners and ‘Martyrs’

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Issa Qaraqe, the Palestinian Authority’s commissioner of prisoner affairs, told the official Voice of Palestine Radio on Tuesday, “The goal of this law is not only theft, but to delegitimize the Palestinian struggle, which is represented by our martyrs and prisoners, by branding them as criminals and terrorists.”

“What they don’t know is that no Palestinian is willing to abandon our martyrs and prisoners — people who have sacrificed for our national struggle,” he said. “This is our national duty and we will not abandon it. So the government will continue to pay these stipends to the families, even if we are in financial crisis.”

In March, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel praised the United States government for passing a law that suspended some financial aid to the Palestinians over the stipends paid to families of Palestinians killed or jailed in fighting with Israel. That law was named the Taylor Force Act, after an American killed in Israel by a Palestinian in 2016. Mr. Force’s father, Stuart Force, attended the debate and the vote in the Knesset.

Israel collects more than $100 million a month in customs and other taxes on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, which makes up a significant portion of the Palestinian budget. Israel has impounded the money for periods in the past, as a punitive measure or to pressure the Palestinian leadership.

In 2015, Israel suspended the tax transfers for several months in response to a Palestinian move to join the International Criminal Court. The accrued funds were eventually released, partly in response to a recommendation from Israel’s security establishment, which feared that depriving the Palestinian Authority of resources undermined stability in its territory, working against Israel’s interests.

Australia said on Monday that it was ending direct aid to the Palestinian Authority for fear that some of it would end up funding “activities that Australia would never support,” and that its annual $10 million in direct funding would be redirected to meet Palestinian needs through a United Nations humanitarian fund.

Julie Bishop, the Australian foreign minister, said in a statement, “Any assistance provided by the Palestine Liberation Organization to those convicted of politically motivated violence is an affront to Australian values, and undermines the prospect of meaningful peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”

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