MK Pindrus pushing legislation to ensure Palestinian Authority compensates Israeli terror victims
The potential law would ensure that funds the Israeli government withholds from the Palestinians are never returned to them, even under international pressure
Following a spate of deadly Palestinian terror attacks that has left 14 Israelis dead since the start of the year, a member of Israel’s Knesset is preparing legislation that would enable victims or their families to seek direct financial compensation for damages from the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Based in part on the U.S.’s Taylor Force Act, which was passed into law in 2018 in an attempt to cut aid to the Palestinian Authority until it ends its “pay for slay” practice of paying stipends to terror convicts and families of slain attackers, the Israeli legislation will allow victims of terror or their families to tap into the tax payments that Israel already withholds from the PA. The bill, which appears to have overwhelming support from both coalition and opposition lawmakers, could be passed into law in the next few months.
“It is built on the Taylor Force Act,” Knesset Member Yitzhak Pindrus, who drafted and is pushing the legislation, told Jewish Insider in an interview on Monday. “We took our basic ideas for this law from there, but it has been adapted to Israeli laws and Israeli regulations.”
Pindrus, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition from the Haredi United Torah Judaism Party, continued: “Right now, Israel is, unfortunately, under increased terrorist attacks, and the Palestinians are not taking any responsibility… not only are they not taking responsibility, but they’re also actually pushing for [more terror] and they’re continuing to pay terrorists for every year they sit in jail and for every death of an Israeli.”
The law builds on existing Israeli legislation that enables the government to withhold millions of shekels in tax payments collected on behalf of the Palestinians from commerce and income tax. Currently, under the law passed in 2018, Israel calculates how much it believes the PA pays in stipends to Palestinian terrorists or their families and deducts that amount from the revenues.
According to Pindrus, however, while those funds do not reach the Palestinian Authority’s coffers, they are also not getting to the victims of terror acts, in part because of Israel’s own compensation laws – there is no direct mechanism for Israelis to sue the PA and receive a payout – and also due to the fact that Israel’s National Insurance system automatically grants financial support and services to any recognized terror victim.
“The problem is that while the law allows us to take the money from the Palestinian Authority, there is no way for the victims to get that money, and there is no way for Israeli victims to sue the Palestinian Authority,” he explained. “The money [withheld from the PA] is just lying there; it’s already in Israel but no one can really use it.”
“This will create a situation where victims can receive both compensation from the [Israeli] government and will also be able to sue the Palestinian Authority and receive the funds from this source,” Pindrus continued.
The potential law, he added, will also ensure that the funds withheld from the PA are not returned to them at any point in the future, either due to international pressure or as part of a goodwill gesture to kick-start peace negotiations, which has happened in the past.
“Right now, because the money is just sitting in a bank account, when there comes international pressure or [President Joe] Biden comes to visit Israel or the Palestinians try to get a loan or any other international trick, the funds can just be returned to them,” Pindrus explained. “But the minute the money’s going to be in the private accounts of the people that were attacked or damaged, that will force the PA to take more responsibility, and we will be able to tell the international community, ‘What do you want? The money’s gone to the families who were hurt.’”
Last month, Israel passed another law aimed at the PA’s “pay-for-slay” practice – the immediate stripping of Israeli citizenship from individuals who accept the terror stipend. Earlier in the month, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, head of the far-right Religious Zionism party, announced that he was doubling the sum withheld by Israel from the PA as punishment for the uptick in attacks. In January, Smotrich withheld roughly $40 million from tax revenues, saying that the PA was “bankrolling terrorists and today the State of Israel is saying ‘enough is enough.’ Israeli citizens will no longer be part of this farce.”