Palestinian Media Watch, which has documented the Palestinian Authority’s payment of salaries to convicted terrorists or their families, is warning banks not to process funds for the salaries.
PMW is responding to a new order from the Israel Defense Forces in Judea and Samaria barring any action with “terror assets” beginning May 9.
“If you continue holding accounts for imprisoned terrorists in your bank, you are turning yourself personally and the bank employees into partners in crime,” explains the letter. “If your bank has any accounts of imprisoned terrorists – whether in the names of the terrorists themselves or whether in the names of proxies appointed by the terrorists – you must order the immediate freeze of those accounts and the transfer of their contents to the IDF Military Commander for Judea and Samaria.”
The payments amount to hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Some of the money that goes to the terrorists has been diverted from foreign donatations to the PA, PMW has found.
PMW said the new law “applies substantial parts of Israel’s Anti-Terror Law to Judea and Samaria. Palestinian Media Watch has written to the heads of the different banks in the Palestinian Authority areas, warning them that if they continue to provide bank accounts through which the PA pays salaries to terrorist prisoners after May 9, they could face personal criminal liability as well as exposing their banks to civil law suits from terror victims.”
The letter warns bankers they could be considered “a partner in this crime” if they continue their banking services on those accounts.
The penalty for violations could be up to 10 years in prison and a substantial fine.
“Since PMW has conclusively shown that the PA payments to the terrorist prisoners are a reward for acts of terror, any person involved in this process, including the PA administrative staff and the banks, after May 9, 2020, will be committing a criminal offense pursuant to the new Israeli legislation,” the organization said.
“Should the banks not heed PMW’s warning, Israel should immediately act to enforce the new law, including seizing the terror funds directly from the banks,” PMW said.
“It should be noted, that Israel’s minister of defense recently adopted PMW’s recommendation and started seizing the salaries that the PA has paid to Israeli-Arab terrorists. That recommendation was based on the provisions in Israel’s Anti-Terror Law, and information gathered shows that based on PMW’s recommendation, the minister of defense has issued numerous ‘administrative seizure orders,’ for funds exceeding 2,000,000 shekels. It is that law that has now been adopted in Judea and Samaria,” the organization said.
Because of PMW’s work over the years, “in 2018 the United States passed the Taylor Force Act which conditioned the U.S. aid to the PA on the abolition of this practice. The Netherlands and Australia have also stopped funding the PA following PMW’s meetings with members of parliaments in these countries. In Israel, PMW played a central role in the passage of legislation that imposes financial sanction on the PA for this practice. Based on this legislation, in 2019, Israel froze the transfer of over 500 million shekels to the PA.”
The letter to banks was signed by Itamar Marcus, founder of PMW, and its director of legal strategies, Maurice Hirsch.