Palestinian Authority (PA) officials announced on Friday they would defy a new Israeli order which would see fines and jail time being handed down to anyone facilitating payments to jailed terrorists and their families, Reuters reports.
PA banks began shutting down the accounts of some prisoners and their families in recent days ahead of the new order taking effect.
However, PA cabinet leader Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Friday that the banks had agreed to reopen the accounts.
“Families of prisoners can activate their bank accounts starting from Sunday,” he said in a statement quoted by Reuters.
“We reject the Israeli threats to banks over the allocations of prisoners and martyrs, and we will not submit to them,” stressed Shtayyeh.
The Association of Banks in Palestine defended the account closures as intended to protect prisoners’ assets from seizure and to defend the banks and their employees from Israeli punishment. The group called on the PA to find another method to make the payments.
On Thursday, Shtayyeh ordered the establishment of a committee that will examine the significance of Israel’s threat to act against the banks and make recommendations on which course of action to take.
The Palestinian Authority provides monthly allowances to terrorist prisoners, many of whom have been convicted of murdering or assisting in the murder of Jews. The amount of the monthly allowance increases based on the length of the prison term.
Last year, the Israeli government decided to offset the tax money it collects on behalf of the PA because of the monthly financial aid it provides to families of terrorists. The decision meant it would withhold around $10 million per month from revenues of some $190 million per month it collects on the PA’s behalf.
PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas later reiterated that he would not accept partial payment of tax transfers owed by Israel and also stressed that he would not end the financial support for the families of terrorists imprisoned or eliminated by Israel.