Bezalel Smotrich
Bezalel SmotrichArutz Sheva

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has penned a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, demanding that Netanyahu keep an agreement to allow confiscated terror funds to be used to lower the cost of living for Israeli citizens.

In the letter, Smotrich accused Netanyahu of delaying the seizure of three billion NIS of the funds passed to the Palestinian Authority. These funds, which were seized legally, were earmarked for the rebuilding of Gaza border communities and to lower the cost of living.

"The battle against the cost of living is one of the greatest and most important challenges of our government," Smotrich began. He noted that the government is advancing important process which will increase competition, such as the import reform, and the creation of a committee to examine concentrations in the food industry, but stressed that these processes are "long-term and it will take time before they trickle down to the consumer and are felt in the pockets of the country's citizens."

"In recent months, I and my staff put together a number of ideas by means of which we can help the weaker sectors and the middle class deal handle the cost of living, including subsidizing the rise of the causes of inflation, helping many families whose monthly mortgage payments have risen due to the rise in interest, and so on. But for this we need a source of funding, of a few billion shekel, which unfortunately you are keeping from me and from Israel's citizens."

Smotrich explained: "In the framework of the discussions regarding the amended 2024 budget, we counted on a funding source of three billion shekel from the confiscation of terror funds from the Palestinian Authority. You promised me, together with the National Security Council chief, Minister Dermer, and the government's secretary, that you would allow the advancement of the bill, and based on this, we counted on this budget to fight the cost of living."

"Unfortunately, for three months and in contradiction to your promise, you are preventing the advancement of the bill for reasons which are not clear, and thus blocking a source of three billion shekels of funding, which are supposed to be used to fund the cost of rebuilding the Gaza border area, in a way through which the terror funds will be used to correct [terror's] damage, and in this way it will free up three billion shekels for the benefit of the citizens of Israel and making their lives easier by means of fighting the cost of living."

"It is unthinkable that the concern for the Palestinian Authority and the terror budgets that it pays the families of terrorists should be more important than the citizens of Israel, who are choking under the cost of living," he added.

"I request that you immediately approve the advancement of the legislation, immediately upon the start of the summer session of the Knesset. On the basis of this source, we will be able to create a list of programs to ease the burden on mortgage-payers and on Israeli citizens," he concluded.