Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman for pointing to the Palestinian Authority policy of paying salaries to terrorists, sometimes referred to as ‘pay to slay.’
“I want to congratulate Ambassador (David) Friedman, the American ambassador to Israel who tweeted the truth – unvarnished, straight forward and I think he said something important things,” Netanyahu told journalists working for foreign agencies at an annual New Year’s toast on Wednesday evening.
“The important thing is that Abbas’ government is supporting the kind of murderers that murdered the father of six,” Netanyahu said in reference to an attack on Tuesday evening.
“Such people in our jails get $355 million a year – they and their families -- from the Palestinian Authority. That is something that is untenable,” the prime minister said.
Friedman said the fact that Palestinian Authority laws allowing payment of terrorists' salaries is preventing Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Friedman tweeted the comment after 35-year-old Rabbi Raziel Shevach, a father of six, was murdered by at least one Palestinian terrorist in a drive-by shooting near his home in Samaria, also known as the West Bank, on Tuesday evening.
The attack occurred along highway 60, also known as the way of the patriarchs because it’s the highway along which biblical Abraham would have traveled.
“An Israeli father of six was killed last night in cold blood by Palestinian terrorists. Hamas praises the killers and PA (Palestinian Authority) laws will provide them financial rewards. Look no further (as) to why there is no peace. Praying for the bereaved Shevach family,” he tweeted.
An Israeli father of six was killed last night in cold blood by Palestinian terrorists. Hamas praises the killers and PA laws will provide them financial rewards. Look no further to why there is no peace.
Praying for the bereaved Shevach family.
— David M. Friedman (@USAmbIsrael) January 10, 2018
In a tweet, Israeli government minister Michael Oren applauded Friedman “for condemning Hamas’s praise of the attack and the Palestinian Authority for reconciling with Hamas. I agree that such hatred of Jews, and not settlements, is the reason there’s no peace.”
Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett tweeted that the terrorists that killed Raziel “knew how much money they would receive for the murder.”
In their tweets, Friedman and Bennett were referring to a policy known as “pay to slay”, whereby Palestinian Authority laws determine how much terrorists receive as a government pension for carrying out terror attacks against Israelis.
The U.S. Congress is in the process of passing a new bill known as the Taylor Force Act that would partially cut U.S. funding to the Palestinian Authority because they use U.S. tax dollars to pay terrorists.
The bill has already passed the House of Representatives and is pending Senate approval.
Israel’s Defense Ministry published a list of payments the PA made to terrorists and their families, according to the Jerusalem Post.
The PA's own records show payments to terrorists and their families of hundreds of millions of dollars in 2017, the Defense Ministry said.
A Palestinian terrorist sentenced to three to five years in Israeli prison received $580 per month. If the terrorist is sentenced to 20 years or more, meaning he has probably killed Israelis, his lifetime monthly allowance is five times that.
And if the terrorists are Arab-Israeli citizens (as opposed to Palestinians), they get a monthly addition of $145, meaning they make more than $2,900 per month – more than the average Israeli income.
Israel is considering its own version of the Taylor Force Act, whereby they would deduct a specified amount from taxes and tariffs that Israel collects for the PA.
Meanwhile, Israel’s chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot visited the site of Tuesday’s terror attack and said the “main mission” now “is to locate the cell, to stop it and to prevent further terror events, and also to prepare for further activity in the area over the weekend.”
President Trump also recently threatened to cut funding to another Palestinian institution – The United Nations Relief and Works Agency or UNRWA.
Netanyahu said that from his perspective it's not about taking the money away.
"It's not a question of de-funding UNRWA, it's a question of replacing UNRWA after 70 years with an agency that will actually address the real needs of real refugees," he said.
Since there is an overall U.N. effort for millions of refugees worldwide, Netanyahu sees no reason for Palestinians to receive individual attention.
"This will not have negative effects," he said. "It will have positive effects because the perpetuation of the dream of bringing the descendants of refugees back to Jaffa is what sustains this conflict. UNRWA is part of the problem not part of the solution."