'Funds to PA can legally be frozen over support for terror'

Ministry's legal experts say bill to punish PA for payments to terrorists has no legal impediment.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Flash 90

The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, headed by MK Avi Dichter (Likud), began deliberations Wednesday on the first reading of a bill, submitted by MK Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid) to reduce funds for the Palestinian Authority in response to its support of terrorism.

MK Dichter said that "this bill, of which I am one of the signatories, looks to find another way to clarify...to the Palestinian Authority and all law-breakers that we are not going to continue to look indifferently at the fact that the PA is signing a peace agreement on the one hand, and on the other hand sanctifies terrorists. The sanctification of the terrorists who attack us as heroes, is [enshrined] there by legislation, and [takes place among] the whole chain of political leadership, [all the way up to] President Mahmoud Abbas."

MK Elazar Stern added, "The State of Israel collects funds for the PA which transfers money to terrorists and their families, in direct proportion to the severity of the punishment and the number of people killed. It is only natural that under these circumstances almost all the factions in the Knesset have signed this bill. We will keep the funds in order to create an opposing incentive - instead of receiving money after the terror attacks, they will receive money once the terror stops."

Attorney Sara Weiss-Ma'udi, of the Foreign Ministry's International Law Department, said that the offset is possible under international law, "because the interim agreement on the transfer of funds also speaks of the fact that neither side will support terrorism. In light of this, it will be possible to stop the transfer because of support for terrorism."

Attorney Gal Cohen of the Defense Ministry agreed and noted that preventing the transfer of funds to terrorists is a routine aspect of Israeli and international law enforcement. "In other words, the government already has the authority to do much of what the bill proposed to anchor [in law], and the ministerial committee agreed that this issue would be promoted within the framework of a government bill, after a discussion by all the professionals who are experts on the matter."