After months of Finance Ministry and Accountant General stalling, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon wielded his authority and withheld payments from funds transferred to the Palestinian Authority for the purpose of paying court expenses to collaborators with Israel who sued the Palestinian Authority.
The story began in April 2017, when the verdict of Judge Moshe Yair Drori of the Jerusalem District Court was published that dealt with the abduction, imprisonment, torture, rape, and the murder of 52 people.
The 1,800-page ruling determined the Palestinian Authority to be responsible for damages suffered by those suspected of collaborating with Israel.
According to the ruling, compensation amounts will be determined in the future, but the PA will pay an interim amount of NIS 500,000 for legal expenses and NIS 900,000 for expert opinions.
The PA did not agree to pay and hold orders were issued against it. All requests to recover the funds were unsuccessful. The Finance Ministry Comptroller refused to accept the foreclosure order. Only the Accountant General of the Tax Authority and the Finance Ministry Director agreed to authorize receipt of the order with a "received" stamp. The others even refused to confirm the order had been submitted to them. Despite the statutorily imposed time limit, none of the principals responded to the attachment order.
After the dates had passed and after the order's presentation to all the above bodies, no choice was left and the collaborators' lawyers appealed that the above-mentioned bodies be investigated.
The investigation was supposed to take place on January 1, 2018, but the ministries requested a postponement. The investigation was then due to take place today, but the Execution Office Registrar announced that after a letter from the Palestinian Authority which denies the legality of withholding the funds but accepts the current offset, it will deduct the funds and transfer them within a week to the collaborator's lawyers.
Attorneys Aryeh Arbus and Barak Kedem said in response: "We congratulate the State of Israel on its decision to withhold more than half-a-million shekels from Palestinian Authority funds, which are being deducted for the legal costs of collaborators who sued the PA for false imprisonment and torture. This is a very important decision that expresses values. The resolution makes it clear that the State of Israel will stand by those who stood by it during its war on terror."