Israeli cabinet votes to cut funds to PNA over payments to Palestinian prisoners

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-11 23:34:10|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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JERUSALEM, June 11 (Xinhua) -- Israeli cabinet on Sunday voted in favor of a bill to slash funds to the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) over stipends it pays to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

The move means the bill will be put to the vote in the Knesset (parliament), where it is likely to be approved with the full support of the coalition's 66 members in the 120-seat parliament.

The bill is expected to be brought for a preliminary vote in the Knesset plenum on Wednesday. It needs to pass three more full rounds of votes before it becomes law.

The bill requires a cut-off of about one billion shekels (283 million U.S. dollars) from the annual tax revenues that Israel collects for Ramallah, a sum that Israel says equals the funding that Ramallah pays in stipends to the prisoners and their families.

Israel collects customs from Palestinian imports and exports on behalf of the PNA and taxes from salaries of Palestinians who work in Israel.

The bill was first proposed by lawmaker Elazar Stern of the center-right party of Yesh Atid and received an immediate support from centrist and right-wing factions.

Israeli government says the money "encourages" Palestinians' actions against Israel but the Palestinians say these are welfare payments for the prisoners and their families.

While the prisoners are regarded in the Palestinian society as heroes who sacrificed their freedom for the liberation of their homeland, the Israeli society sees all of them as terrorists.

About 6,500 Palestinians are being jailed in Israeli prisons.