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The New Arab

Palestinian officials denounce Israel bill to withhold prisoners' funds

Around 35,000 families receive support from the fund [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 May, 2018

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Palestinian officials have denounced an Israeli draft law that allows Tel Aviv to withhold funds to the Palestinian Authority over its payments to prisoners and their families.

Palestinian officials have denounced an Israeli draft law that allows Tel Aviv to withhold funds to the Palestinian Authority over its payments to prisoners and their families.

Palestinian lawmaker Hanan Ashrawi on Monday condemned the controversial bill, which passed its first reading on Monday.

"The proposed legislation is nothing short of outright theft," Ashrawi said, to according official Palestinian news agency Wafa.

"The Israeli occupying power is obliged to collect customs on behalf of the Palestinian government. However, it does so while deducting a three percent charge of the total amount," she said.

"Such funds legally belong to the Palestinian people and should be directly transferred to us without any manipulations or deductions," she added.

The Palestinian Authority [PA] said on Friday that it intends to file a legal case against Israel at the International Criminal Court [ICC] over the law.

The draft law will make it legal for Israel to deduct the amount of the money paid by PA to the families of prisoners and people killed by Israel from its tax revenues.

Last December, US lawmakers voted to suspend aid to the PA if the government does not halt social payments to the families of Palestinians detained or killed in the conflict with Israel.

The PA makes a variety of social payments to the relatives of Palestinians detained by Israel or killed in violence, whether they were carrying out attacks or shot dead by Israeli military forces.

A dedicated fund was set up in the 1960s and estimates suggest it distributes as much as $100 million a year.

Around 35,000 families receive support from the fund.

Palestinians say such payments are a key source of income for families who have lost their main breadwinner.

Critics say the payments to the families of "attackers" encourage further violence.

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