Speaking to Abbas’ government’s policy that continue its ‘Pay to Slay’ monthly stipends to those who kill Israelis, EU officials visiting Israel said, “Violence should not be rewarded or encouraged in any way, but instead prevented and condemned.”
By Ariel Kahana & Israel Hayom Staff
European Union officials on Wednesday spoke out for the first time against the Palestinian Authority’s practice of paying stipends to terrorists imprisoned in Israel and the families of terrorists killed while carrying out attacks against Israelis.
A delegation of senior EU officials is visiting Israel and the Palestinian Authority this week and is expected to meet with Israeli and Palestinian officials.
The delegation includes, among others, European Commission Director General for Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations Christian Danielsson, and the Managing Director for Middle East and North Africa at the European External Action Service Fernando Gentilini.
The delegation is expected to broach the subject in its meetings with Palestinian officials.
A statement published by Maja Kocijancic, spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, said the mission will review the EU’s engagement in the region.
”The objective of the review is to ensure that the EU’s engagement – activities and instruments, the EU’s diplomatic engagement, financial assistance and EU civilian missions – are as efficient and as effective as possible” to advance the two-state solution.
The European Union’s annual aid to the Palestinian Authority amounts to billions of euros, making it its largest donor.
The statement stressed that “there is no intention to reduce the current level of EU funding, nor to review EU policies on the Middle East peace process,” but rather to “hear the views” of both parties and “raise and discuss with them any obstacles to peace and to the viability of the two-state solution.
”The EU also stresses that it “remains firmly committed to the two-state solution as the only realistic and viable way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”
Still, EU officials condemned the PA’s practice of paying terrorists and their families.
”The current system of payments to Palestinian prisoners, ex-prisoners and families is part of the political and policy dialogue of the EU with the PA, including at the highest political level,” the delegation said in a statement.
”We do not believe that violence should be rewarded or encouraged in any way, but instead prevented and condemned, while we expect genuine commitment from both sides toward a peaceful and negotiated two-state solution.
The Knesset on Tuesday approved the terrorist wages law, which will see Israel financially penalize Ramallah for paying stipends to terrorists and their families, by deducting a similar amount from the monthly tax revenues that Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinians under the 1993 Oslo Accords.
Lawmakers voted 87-15 in favor of the legislation that orders Israel to withhold part of the roughly $130 million in monthly tax revenues.
The stipends paid to terrorists total approximately $330 million, or roughly 7% of the Palestinian Authority’s annual budget.
The delegation’s statement further said its members “have seen the results of the vote in the Knesset.” They expressed ”concern ”about the financial situation of the PA,” saying, ”Our expectation is that economic and fiscal agreements between Israel and the PA will continue to be implemented, including Israel’s obligations under the Paris Protocol,” which outlines Israel’s obligations in collecting taxes on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.
The Palestinians warned Wednesday that Israel’s decision to withhold the funds was “a declaration of war.”
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