Israel advances bill cutting Palestinian funding over ‘terror’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C), Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman (R), and Chief of Staff Lt. General Gadi Eizenkot meet in Tel Aviv, Israel. (File photo: Reuters)
Updated 19 February 2018
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Israel advances bill cutting Palestinian funding over ‘terror’

JERUSALEM: Ministers Sunday greenlighted a bill allowing Israel to withhold tax monies it collects for the Palestinian Authority by the same amount as stipends that the PA pays to jailed militants.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, whose ministry drafted the bill, welcomed the vote in a ministerial committee, the first step toward sending it to parliament to be passed into law.
“Soon there will be an end to this theater of absurd,” he wrote in Hebrew on Twitter, adding that the money confiscated would be used “to prevent terror and compensate victims.”
Israel annually collects around $127 million in customs duties levied on goods destined for Palestinian markets that transit through Israeli ports monthly and then transfers it to the PA.
It has withheld payment in the past, notably in response to Palestinian admission in 2011 to the UN cultural agency UNESCO as a full member.
The Israeli move comes as the US Senate considers a bill approved by the House of Representatives to withhold aid to the PA if it does not stop the controversial practice of so-called martyr payments to families of Palestinians convicted of terrorist attacks.
Republican and Democratic US lawmakers alike have warned that the payments incentivise violence and serve as a sticking point in the Middle East peace process.
According to the Israeli bill, Lieberman will present an annual report detailing payments to “terror activists” and their families granted by the Palestinian Authority,” his office said.
“Based on the report, the sum will be deducted from payments handed from Israel to the Palestinian Authority.”
The bill will now face a series of parliamentary debates and votes before being finalized.
The Palestinian government slammed the move, calling it “piracy and theft” as well as a breach of international law, official news agency WAFA said.
The American legislation, called the Taylor Force Act, is named after a US military veteran and graduate student, age 28, who was killed in a 2016 attack while he was visiting Israel. The attacker, a Palestinian, was killed by police.


Turkey targets military over alleged Gulen links

Updated 14 December 2018
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Turkey targets military over alleged Gulen links

  • The Istanbul public prosecutor ordered arrest warrants for 219 soldiers on active duty
  • They are believed to have ties to the group led by US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen

ISTANBUL: Turkish authorities on Friday ordered the arrest of over 200 military personnel in new raids against suspects linked to the attempted coup in 2016, state media reported.
The Istanbul public prosecutor ordered arrest warrants for 219 soldiers on active duty including four colonels and five lieutenant colonels, state news agency Anadolu said.
Istanbul police launched an operation to capture the suspects on Friday morning.
They are believed to have ties to the group led by US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, a former ally turned foe of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Ankara accuses Gulen of being behind the failed coup but he strongly denies any links.
In Ankara, the capital’s public prosecutor issued arrest warrants on Friday for 48 people, mainly working in the arms industry, also over alleged links to Gulen.
Turkey refers to the group as the “Fethullah Terrorist Organization” but followers insist they have peaceful goals of promoting Islam and secular education.
Over 50,000 people have been arrested since the failed putsch in a purge lambasted by human rights activists and Ankara’s Western allies.
Nearly 130,000 public sector workers have been sacked.
Last week, dozens of people including airforce personnel were detained for suspected links to coup-plotters in nationwide operations.
Turkish officials insist the raids are necessary to cleanse state institutions of the “virus” of infiltration by the Gulen movement.