Israel to withhold $180 million in Palestinian funds over militant stipends

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JERUSALEM, July 11 (Reuters) - Israel will withhold $180 million in tax revenue it collect last year on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, or about 7% of the PA's total tax revenue, to offset stipends paid to militants and their families, the Israeli cabinet said on Sunday.

Under a 2018 law, Israel calculates each year how much it believes the Palestinian Authority has paid in stipends to militants, and deducts that amount from the taxes it has collected on the Palestinians' behalf.

Taxes collected by Israel form about half of the income of the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

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Israel calls stipends for militants and their families a “pay for slay” policy that encourages violence. Palestinians hail their jailed brethren as heroes in a struggle for an independent state and their families as deserving of support.

Qadri Abu Baker, head of prisoners affairs in the Palestine Liberation Organization, called the Israeli measure a crime of “terror and piracy.”

($1 = 3.2776 shekels)

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Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch and Ali Sawafta

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