Archive for July 2, 2018

Law passed to deduct terrorists’ salaries from PA tax money

July 2, 2018
In bipartisan vote, 87 MKs support legislation freezing money that would’ve otherwise gone to terrorists from tax funds Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority; MK Zahalka slams bill’s sponsors: ‘You support the murder of Palestinian children.’,7340,L-5302574,00.html

A bill proposal to deduct terrorists’ salaries from tax money Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority was passed into law on Monday evening.

In a bipartisan vote, 87 MKs supported the legislation, while 15 opposed it.

Under the new law, which was sponsored by MKs Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid) and Avi Dichter (Likud), money that would otherwise go to pay stipends to roughly 35,000 families of Palestinian terrorists and their families will be automatically frozen in accordance with the Paris Protocol—without the need for a special approval from the Cabinet.

Terrorists freed during the 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange (Photo: EPA)

Terrorists freed during the 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange (Photo: EPA)

According to the law’s sponsors, the PA paid terrorists over NIS 4 billion over the past four years from its so-called “martyrs’ fund,” with NIS 1.2 billion (roughly $330 million) being paid in the last year alone.

“May your house come to ruin,” Dichter wished Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Arabic, echoing Abbas’ own ill-wish to US President Donald Trump. “Mahmoud Abbas, instead of your Authority investing money in health and education, you invest seven percent of your budget into terrorism?!”

MK Avi Dichter (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)

MK Avi Dichter (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)

“The PA has turned itself into a factory that employs murderers of people—Jews, mostly, but also Muslims, Christians, Druze, Circassians and others, including tourists,” Dichter continued. “It’s very easy to be accepted to (work in) this factory. All you have to do is murder Israelis, be arrested or killed, and you’re hired. Mahmoud Abbas and his aides—if you don’t change the entry criteria to this factory, you will go to sleep one day and wake up (with your funds) cut.”

According to Dichter, the legislation “is meant primarily to send a values- and principles-based message that the State of Israel will not lend a hand to the transfer of money to terrorists. In addition, we believe the law would force the PA to rethink the financing of terrorists and incentivizing any kind of terrorism.”

Stern, meanwhile, argued that “this historic law will significantly weaken the encouragement of terrorism by the PA. It is our duty to stop the economic incentive the PA gives terrorists, an incentive that encourages others to commit terror attacks. That way, any Palestinian youth will realize it’s not worth it for him to choose the path of terrorism. No more encouraging terrorism at our expense.”

MK Stern takes a selfie with his Yesh Atid party colleagues after the bill's passage (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)

MK Stern takes a selfie with his Yesh Atid party colleagues after the bill’s passage (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)

Stern said the withheld money would be put aside, giving the Israeli government discretion on whether to return it to the Palestinians at some point.

A previous draft version of the bill stipulated the money would go to Israeli victims of Palestinian attacks, but it was scrapped due to potential legal complications. Stern claimed that the martyrs’ fund pays higher benefits to those involved in more serious attacks.

“It’s not only that they encourage their people to take terror actions. They even encourage them to cause more casualties of innocent people,” Stern said.

During the stormy session that preceded the vote, Joint List MK Jamal Zahalka accused Stern and Dichter of being “shameless, uncultured. They support the murder of Palestinian children. You all supported the bombing of Gaza. You murdered Palestinian children. Who among you came out against it?”

MK Jamal Zahalka (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)

MK Jamal Zahalka (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)

Dichter, the former director of the Shin Bet, is “responsible for the murder of thousands of people,” Zahalka charged. “You’re hypocrites and thieves, stealing from the Palestinian people the money they deserve. You’re the occupiers, the oppressors, the murderers, the thieves.”

As he took the podium, Joint MK Ahmad Tibi shot a snide remark at Likud MK Nava Boker, telling her “if you don’t like what I’m going to say, get out. (With your) IQ, you won’t understand what I’m saying anyway. Anyone who doesn’t like it, get out.”

Tibi then accused the Israeli government of “holding every year a memorial service for murderers and terrorists right here in the Knesset and calling them national heroes, even though one of them (Meir Har-Zion) slaughtered an entire Bedouin family with his own hands. It’s double standards to call the Palestinians terrorists and the murderers of Palestinians heroes.”

MK Ahmad Tibi (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)

MK Ahmad Tibi (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)

Outraged by the proposed legislation, Tibi charged that “This is Palestinian money and anyone who deducts it is committing armed robbery by the state. This is the money of the Palestinian workers in Israel.”

Joint List MK Hanin Zoabi joined the chorus of accusations, charging, “What haven’t you done? Occupation, siege, not allowing in food. What war crimes haven’t you committed against the Palestinian people, these brave people? You put 2 million people in the largest prison in the world, in a siege. Keep being stupid. Stupidity is good. You’re a camp (the right wing) that managed to demonize a nation—even the Palestinians are not considered as human beings. I don’t understand the psychology of Israeli politics.”

She also attacked the left-wing parties, saying, “They need to ask themselves what mistakes they’ve made to cause the bad ones to get stronger, cause the fascists to get stronger.”

MK Hanin Zoabi (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)

MK Hanin Zoabi (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)

Zionist Union MK Itzik Shmuli responded, accusing her that she “wants me in the sea.”

Zoabi continued unabated, “You took the resources, the water, the land—but you won’t take the spirit. Not with a siege and not with the occupation. This camp (the left wing) has no values, and that is why the bad people’s camp grew stronger.”

Dichter shot back at the Arab MKs, accusing that “You’ve been brainwashed by the Palestinian Authority.”

After the bill’s approval, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman wrote on Twitter: “We promised to stop the party of terrorists’ salaries, and we delivered. Now it’s final. Every shekel Abbas pays terrorists and murderers will be automatically deducted from the Palestinian Authority’s budget. Effective fight against terrorism also goes through the pocket—of the terrorists, of their families and of Abbas.”

Palestinians condemn ‘theft and piracy’

The Palestinians say the number of people involved in deadly attacks is a small percentage of those aided by the “martyrs’ fund.” They say the tax revenues, collected by Israel for them under past peace agreements, are their money, and that the Palestinian Authority has a responsibility to all of its citizens like any other government.

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, accused Israel of “theft and piracy.”

“The Palestinian Authority is responsible for all Palestinians, and is responsible for the families of prisoners and martyrs within the program of social assistance,” he said.

Knesset vote on the law (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)

Knesset vote on the law (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)

The Israeli law passed the same day that Australia said it ended direct aid to the Palestinian Authority, claiming Australian donations could increase its capacity to pay Palestinians convicted of politically motivated violence.

A few months earlier, the US Congress approved the Taylor Force Act, a bill to halt US funding to the Palestinian Authority until it stops paying stipends to Palestinian attackers and their families.

The United States is now reviewing some $200 million in assistance for the Palestinians. It has also cut some $300 million to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees and their descendants, known as UNRWA, further straining the Palestinian budget.

Stuart Force, the father of Taylor Force, an American student who was killed in a 2016 attack in Israel, attended Monday’s Knesset vote. He said he was “really heartened” by Israeli lawmakers’ support for the Taylor Force Act as it passed through Congress.

“When there was a possibility to come out and show my support, I jumped at it,” Force said. He said the vote “will bring awareness” to the issue and hoped other countries would follow suit.

The cash-strapped Palestinian Authority, which relies heavily on the Israeli tax funds and international aid, has suffered from chronic budget problems.

Issa Qarakeh, the PA’s minister of prisoner affairs, said that even if Israel halts the transfer of funds, the Palestinian government will still pay the stipends.

“When we signed Oslo Agreement, it was clear to Israel that the Palestinian Authority pays these families, and they never objected. Now they are creating a problem just to avoid addressing the real problems, which stems from the Israeli military occupation and building the settlements on our land, not the social welfare money that goes to the families who lost their source of living,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

US tells world to halt all Iranian oil imports by November

July 2, 2018

Japan and India under pressure as Washington says ‘no exceptions’
Washington says it will work with other oil producers to ensure global oil supplies when the Iran embargo takes effect.   © Reuters

TOKYO — The U.S. is pushing countries around the world to cut all imports of Iranian crude oil by Nov. 4 as part of economic sanctions against the Middle Eastern nation, indicating that no exceptions will be made.

Washington will work with other oil producers to ensure global oil supplies when the oil embargo takes effect, according to a senior State Department official. China, India and Japan are among the main importers of Iranian oil.

Japan has already been asked to stop importing oil produced in Iran, according to the U.S. official. This forces Tokyo to choose between supporting its longtime ally and protecting domestic energy security.

Japan, which possesses few natural resources, has maintained some diplomacy with Tehran as part of efforts to secure stable oil supplies. Iran provides about 5.5% of Japan’s oil imports, making the Middle Eastern country Tokyo’s sixth-biggest supplier. Russia ranks fifth.

Tokyo relies on the Middle East for about 90% of its oil imports, with 40% of its global total coming from Saudi Arabia and 24% from the United Arab Emirates.

Even before the U.S. lifted sanctions on Tehran during President Barack Obama’s administration, Japan imported oil from Iran on a similar scale, building a degree of friendly relations with the Persian Gulf nation.

Resource-poor Japan buys 5.5% of its oil imports from Iran, which provides the country with a degree of energy security.   © Reuters

But President Donald Trump has presented Tokyo with a dilemma. The president in early May signed an executive order reviving sanctions against Iran, which likely will include an oil embargo. The administration cited Iran’s nuclear program, which was thrown into neutral by a 2015 accord between Tehran and other nations including the U.S. Trump withdrew from that agreement last month.

Now Washington wants other nations to fall in line and ratchet up pressure on Tehran. The sanctions require global payments messaging network SWIFT to block Iranian banks from accessing the platform, severely hindering their ability to conduct transactions in dollars.

The European Union, which hopes to maintain the nuclear deal as well as business with Iran, has urged the U.S. to exempt SWIFT. The EU also has indicated it will protect companies that operate in Iran from the American sanctions.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sides with the EU in supporting the nuclear accord. But Abe also seeks to avoid distancing himself too much from Washington, saying he understands some of Trump’s problems with the deal.

The request to halt oil imports apparently arose when Japanese and American government representatives met here June 19 to discuss the sanctions. The U.S. side included Christopher Ford, the assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation.

Abe’s government has not decided how to respond to the U.S. request, Japanese government sources said.

Tokyo hopes to persuade Washington to accept imports continuing as they did under the previous sanctions, arguing that Japan’s crude from Iran makes up a tiny fraction of the global oil trade. A total ban could damage relations between Tokyo and Tehran.

But the sanctions may force importers of Iranian oil to adjust their purchasing regardless of what Tokyo decides, out of concern for their American business. These companies may voluntarily cease buying from Iran or find alternative sources elsewhere in the Middle East, a Japanese government insider said.

Companies outside Japan are rethinking Iranian operations as well. French oil major Total might withdraw from a natural gas development project in the country despite the EU’s efforts to shield its businesses from the sanctions. Indonesian state oil conglomerate Pertamina has said it is reconsidering plans to operate an Iranian oil field.

Several DEAD as Iran opens fire on protesters for freedom

July 2, 2018

By – on

Will the notoriously leftwing mainstream media ignore this slaughter again, as they did in service to Obama?

In 2009, the only true freedom revolution in the Middle East was crushed by the murdering mullahs, sanctioned and supported by President Obama. The Iranian people rose up and were systematically massacred, with a wink and a nod from then-President Obama. It was an abomination made possible by an Obama-worshiping media that worked feverishly to polish and scrub his notorious deeds.

There were only a handful of us who covered this historic movement. Obama, on the other hand, rewarded propagandists for the murdering regime with a coveted spot in the White House press corps. That’s why the muckraking, smear machine, the Huffington Post, was the first blog to get White House credentials.

Neda Soltan, icon of the 2009 freedom revolution in Iran. She was shot down in cold blood on the street  as she stood with freedom marchers in 2009.

Several reported killed as Iranian forces open fire on protesters

Gunshots heard on videos shared on social media of demonstrators in Khorramshahr, where residents have complained of a lack of water

By TOI staff and Agencies Today, 1:42 am 9 q12Z
A still from video shared on social media showing protests in the Iranian city of Khorramshahr on June 30, 2018. (screen capture: Twitter/BBC)

A still from video shared on social media showing protests in the Iranian city of Khorramshahr on June 30, 2018. (screen capture: Twitter/BBC)

At least four protesters were reported killed in Iran as regime forces opened fire on demonstrators rallying against a water shortage in the city of Khorramshahr.

Vidoes shared on social media late Saturday night appeared to show Iranian forces opening fire on protesters in the Arab-majority city, in the oil-rich southwestern Khuzestan region.

The reporters shooting comes after several days of unrest centered in Tehran where thousands have protested the country’s economic woes, including the collapse of the Iranian rial following the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal.

The Saudi-based al Arabiya news outlet reported four people had been killed in Khorramshahr Saturday.

There was no confirmation of the death toll.

The BBC’s Persian service reported one person had been killed, citing eyewitnesses.

Video circulated by the news outlet appeared to show automatic gunfire as people protested in the streets. Fire could also be seen as well as people fleeing after tear gas was fired.

The state-run IRNA news outlet reported that protesters were ordered to disperse after throwing stones and setting fires in Khorramshahr.

Protests in Khorramshahr and other surrounding towns have continued for several days over what residents say is a lack of clean drinking water.

Protesters have blamed mismanagement for exacerbating a drought in the area, leaving little desalinated water for drinking or agriculture.

Protesters in Khoramshahr and nearby Abadan have reportedly begun chanting against the regime in the protests, including “death to Khamenei” joining demonstrators in Tehran and other towns angry over the country’s sinking financial fortunes.

Iranians have been hit by rising prices, and record levels of unemployment have left a third of under-30s out of work.

On Monday, traders at Tehran’s Grand Bazaar staged a rare strike.

People stand in the old grand bazaar where shops are closed after a protest, in Tehran, Iran, Monday, June 25, 2018.

At the end of last year, similar economic protests roiled Iran and spread to some 75 cities and towns, becoming the largest demonstrations in the country since its 2009 disputed presidential election. The protests in late December and early January saw at least 25 people killed and nearly 5,000 arrested.

Slogans chanted by the crowds in the recent economic protests, which have leaked out to the world via social media, show that many Iranians blame their own government’s foreign policies for the downturn.

The protests have seen unusual scenes of demonstrators chanting against continued Iranian spending of billions of dollars on regional proxy wars and support for terrorist groups, which many say has meant less investment in the struggling economy at home.

In recent years, Iran has provided financial aid to Palestinian terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Yemen’s Houthi rebels, and Shiite militias in Iraq. Since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Tehran has poured a reported $6 billion into propping up president Bashar Assad’s government.

This week’s protests in Tehran and around the country — including economically hard-hit cities like Kermanshah in western Iran — included shouts of “Death to Palestine,” “No to Gaza, no to Lebanon,” and “Leave Syria and think of us.” Chants of “We don’t want the ayatollahs” and “Death to the dictator” were also heard at some rallies.

The protests signaled growing domestic unease in the wake of Trump’s decision to withdraw America from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers and restore sanctions on the country.

In the last six months, Iran’s currency has lost almost 50 percent of its value, with the US dollar now buying around 85,000 rials on the open market.

Iran Diplomat Among Four Arrested Over Suspected Plot Against Iranian Opposition Meeting

July 2, 2018

Maryam Rajavi, head of the National Council of Resistance of Iran / Twitt


BRUSSELS (Reuters) – An Iranian diplomat has been arrested along with two people suspected of plotting a bomb attack on a meeting of an exiled Iranian opposition group in France, Belgian authorities said on Monday.

U.S President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani and several former European and Arab ministers were among those attending the meeting of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

The two suspects in Belgium were intercepted by Belgian police on Saturday, with 500 grams of TATP, a home-made explosive produced of easily available chemicals, as well as a detonation device found in their car, a joint statement by the Belgian prosecutor and the intelligence services said.

The 38-year-old man and a 33-year-old woman, identified only as Amir S. and Nasimeh N., were charged with attempted terrorist murder and preparation of a terrorist act, it said.

Two arrests linked to the Belgian case were made in France and Germany. The person arrested in Germany was a diplomat at the Iranian embassy in the Austrian capital Vienna, the Belgian statement said.

Staff at the embassy said the ambassador was not immediately available for comment. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is due to visit Austria on Wednesday.

The Belgian statement gave no further details about the diplomat, other than saying they were suspected of having been in contact with the Belgian pair arrested. It gave no details about the fourth suspect, arrested in France.

NCRI is an umbrella bloc of opposition groups in exile that seek an end to Shi’ite Muslim clerical rule in Iran.

Its meeting, which attracted a crowd of thousands, took place on Saturday in Villepinte, just outside of Paris, a three-hour drive from Brussels.

“A plot by the religious dictatorship ruling Iran to carry out a terrorist attack against the grand gathering of the Iranian Resistance in Villepinte was foiled,” Shahin Gobadi spokesman for NCRI said in a statement.

NCRI, also known by its Farsi name Mujahideen-e-Khalq, was once listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union but is no longer.

Tehran has long called for a crackdown on the NCRI in Paris, Riyadh, and Washington. The group is regularly criticized in state media.

Following the arrests, Belgian authorities also conducted five raids in different parts of the country but did not elaborate on whether anything was found.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel on Twitter thanked police and intelligence officers for their work.

“Once more the good cooperation between countries has borne fruit,” Michel wrote.

(Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Additional reporting by Francois Murphy in Vienna and John Irish in Paris; Editing by Alison Williams)


Macron replaces French envoy to Hungary for praising Orban’s ‘model’ policy towards migrants

July 2, 2018

Published time: 2 Jul, 2018 14:54

FILE PHOTO French President Emmanuel Macron talks to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban / Reuters

Emmanuel Macron replaced the French envoy to Hungary, who said that Budapest is “a model” for dealing with migrants and claimed that true anti-Semitism comes from French and German Muslims.

The Elysee was shaken after Mediapart investigative journal leaked a confidential note from Eric Fournier who served as French ambassador in Budapest since 2015, to Macron’s office.  In the note dating from June 18, the now former top envoy praised Viktor Orban’s policies and said Hungary is a “model” for dealing with “illegal migratory movements.” Fournier insisted that accusations of populism against Orban were merely “phantasmagorical.”

READ MORE: Le Pen, Orban, Wilders among Kremlin’s ‘5th column’ hell-bent on destroying Europe, says EU bigwig

Fournier lashed out at French media for its attempt to divert the attention from the “real anti-Semitism” coming from “Muslims in France and Germany.” He criticized ‘magyarophobia’ (the word ‘Magyar’ refers to the Hungarian people) in the media, adding that these attitudes are being fueled by campaigns of Hungarian-born US billionaire and philanthropist George Soros.

Read more

Migrants on an inflatable boat rescued boarding the 'Lifeline' sea rescue boat at sea on June 21, 2018. © Mission Lifeline

Macron hurried to state that the note doesn’t represent France’s policies and condemned Fournier’s remarks in the strongest terms. “Had this ambassador said this publicly, he would have been dismissed immediately,” he told a news conference in Brussels.

Pascale Andreani was quickly named as the new ambassador to Budapest to replace Fournier, Legifrance, an official website of the French government, stated. The Orban-praising official will “take on other functions,” the statement adds.

In summer 2017, Orban and pro-EU Macron – who was just then ascending to power – were engaged in a verbal slugfest over migrant policies. The French leader slammed Eastern Europe for a ‘lack of solidarity’ and ‘cynicism’ in dealing with the refugee crisis. The Hungarian prime minister reacted by saying that the Macron “thought that the best form of friendship [between the EU states] was to kick the Central European countries.”

Orban, a harsh critic of migration and mandatory migrant quotas, has repeatedly cast doubt on the validity of the migrants’ humanitarian plight. He once called asylum seekers “a Trojan horse for terrorism” and branded refugees as ‘Muslim invaders’ seeking better lives. He repeatedly slammed Germany and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ‘open-door’ policy towards asylum seekers.

Australia ends direct aid to PA over payments to terrorists

July 2, 2018

Foreign minister says Canberra concerned money will be distributed to Palestinian prisoners in an ‘affront to Australian values,’ redirects funding to UN

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop at United Nations headquarters, March 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Australia has ended direct aid to the Palestinian Authority over fears its donations will be used to pay Palestinians convicted of terrorism and their families.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Monday that funding to a World Bank trust fund was cut after she wrote to the Palestinian Authority in late May seeking assurance that Australian funding was not being misspent.

 In a statement, Bishop expressed concern that providing further aid would allow the PA to use the funds for activities that “Australia would never support.”

Israel has long accused the PA and its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, of encouraging terror attacks against Israelis by rewarding perpetrators and their families with monthly stipends. It has even withheld millions in tax revenues over the Palestinians’ unwillingness to change its policy. Israeli lawmakers are also advancing a law to slash funds to the PA by the same amount it uses to pay terrorists.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah, June 27, 2018. (Alaa Badarneh/Pool Photo via AP)

“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,” Bishop said in a statement.

“I wrote to the Palestinian Authority on May 29, to seek clear assurance that Australian funding is not being used to assist Palestinians convicted of politically motivated violence,” she wrote.

“I am confident that previous Australian funding to the PA through the World Bank has been used as intended,” Bishop added. “However, I am concerned that in providing funds for this aspect of the PA’s operations there is an opportunity for it to use its own budget to activities that Australia would never support.”

Australia’s AUD 10 million ($7.4 million) donation to the trust fund will now be rerouted to the United Nations’ Humanitarian Fund for the Palestinian Territories, which provides Palestinians with health care, food, water, improved sanitation and shelter.

Palestinians hold portraits of relatives jailed in Israeli prisons as they protest to demand for their release during a demonstration to mark the Prisoners’ Day in the northern West Bank city of Nablus on April 17, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / JAAFAR ASHTIYEH)

Bishop said the UN body “helps 1.9 million people. Approximately 75 per cent of its funding will be spent in Gaza where the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate.”

Australia allocated AUD $43 million for humanitarian assistance in the region for the current fiscal year, which began on July 1.

Australian government lawmaker Eric Abetz welcomed Bishop’s stance.

“Minister Bishop’s strong and decisive decision today to ensure that the Palestinian Authority can no longer use our aid to free up money in its budget for state-promoted terrorism is very positive,” Abetz said.

“It is vital that we ensure that our foreign aid is not being spent on, or making money available for, the promotion of terrorism and so funneling our aid to the Palestinian Territories through the United Nations will provide greater assurance that the Palestinian Authority’s clever accounting cannot occur,” he added.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, second from left, waves with released Palestinian prisoners coming from Israeli jails during celebrations at Abbas’s headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah, October 30, 2013. (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

In March, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the US 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.

The Taylor Force Act, named after an American killed in Israel by a Palestinian in 2016, was folded into a $1.3 trillion spending bill signed by President Donald Trump.

Netanyahu called the law a “powerful signal by the US that changes the rules” by cutting “hundreds of millions of dollars for the Palestinian Authority that they invest in encouraging terrorism.”

According to Israel’s Defense Ministry, the PA in 2017 paid NIS 687 million ($198 million) to the so-called “martyrs’ families fund” and NIS 550 million ($160 million) to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club — some 7 percent of its overall budget.

Palestinian prisoners serving 20- to 30-year sentences for carrying out terror attacks are eligible for a lifetime NIS 10,000 ($2,772) monthly stipend, the Defense Ministry said last week, citing PA figures. Those prisoners who receive a three- to five-year sentence get a monthly wage of NIS 2,000 ($554). Palestinian prisoners who are married, have children, live in Jerusalem, or hold Israeli citizenship receive additional payments.

The Defense Ministry last month released figures alleging that some terrorists who killed Israelis will be paid more than NIS 10 million ($2.78 million) each throughout their lifetimes by the PA.

Last week, Israeli lawmakers gave the final go-ahead for a decisive vote on a bill that would slash funds to the Palestinian Authority by the amount Ramallah pays out to convicted terrorists, rejecting a request by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to give the top-level security cabinet the final say on whether to “freeze” the payments.

The bill, proposed by Yesh Atid MK Elazar Stern and Likud MK Avi Dichter, says that welfare payments paid out by the PA to Palestinian prisoners and their relatives must be deducted from tax revenues Israel transfers annually to the administrative body. The money withheld in this way would instead go into a fund designated to help victims of terror attacks.

The PA has refused to cease its payments to Palestinian prisoners.

In June 2017, PA President Mahmoud Abbas, in a speech read by his foreign affairs adviser Nabil Shaath, argued that “payments to support the families are a social responsibility to look after innocent people affected by the incarceration or killing of their loved ones.

“It’s quite frankly racist rhetoric to call all our political prisoners terrorists,” Abbas said. “They are, in actuality, the victims of the occupation, not the creators of the occupation.”



IDF boosts Golan lines with tank, artillery, rocket units, marks out security zone

July 2, 2018

Source: IDF boosts Golan lines with tank, artillery, rocket units, marks out security zone – DEBKAfile

The IDF Northern Command Sunday, July 1, upgraded the preparedness of the Golan Bashan Division with tanks, artillery and rocket units after evaluating the level of fighting on the Syria side of the border.

This was announced by the military spokesman. His announcement went on to stress “the high importance the IDF attaches to maintaining the disengagement of forces agreement on the Golan concluded in 1974 by Israel and Syria.” He added: “Israel abides by a policy of non-involvement in Syrian affairs, along with a firm response to violations of its sovereignty and possible harm to its citizens.”

DEBKAfile adds: This statement provides advance notice that Israel will not tolerate the entry of Hizballah and pro-Iranian Shiite forces to the Quneitra region opposite IDF Golan lines, and further emphasizes non-acceptance of their entry into the historic disengagement zone between Quneitra and the Israeli border.

While boosting its defensive stance on the Golan, Israel by this statement marks out a security zone based on the 1974 disengagement lines for accommodating the tens of thousands of Syrian refugees massing on its border, as well as rebel forces retreating from Quneitra.

This zone covers 235 between southern Golan and Mt Hermon. It is inside the disengagement line, which runs east of the Israeli border and is between a few meters wide at Nahal Roked in the southern Golan, up to 6 kilometers broad at its northern tip and widens out to 10km on Mt. Hermon.

The question is whether the Russian and Syrian forces taking part on the southwestern Syrian offensive will honor the security zone Israel has marked out, when the objective of their current offensive is to restore Syrian government authority to all the southern border regions.

Opening the Sunday cabinet session in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said: “We shall persist in defending our borders and extending humanitarian aid, but will not let ‘anyone’ step across into our territory. I am in constant contact with the Kremlin and White House on this question.”

On Saturday, the IDF transferred 6 injured Syrians, four of them children whose parents were killed in the fighting, to Israel hospitals for treatment.