Palestinians decry Israeli move to freeze funds for prisoners’ families

Protesters flee from incoming tear gas canisters fired by Israeli forces during a demonstration by Palestinian women along the border east of Gaza City on Tuesday. AFP
Updated 04 July 2018
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Palestinians decry Israeli move to freeze funds for prisoners’ families

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly demanded that the Palestinians, who view prisoners as national heroes, stop paying stipends to them and their families
  • Israel is stealing the land and money of the Palestinian people and that is a result of the decisions of President (Donald) Trump, who supports Israel

RAMALLAH: A top Palestinian official on Tuesday strongly denounced a new Israeli law that will freeze money transfers to the Palestinian Authority for paying stipends to Palestinians jailed by Israel, their families, and the families of those killed by Israeli forces.
Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said the move threatened the existence of the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority (PA).
Israel enacted the law on Monday, which gives it the powers to withhold an amount of money based on what is paid to the prisoners and their families by the PA.
The 120-seat Parliament voted 87-15 in favor of the legislation that orders holding back part of the roughly $130 million in tax revenues that Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinians each month under interim peace agreements.
A sponsor of the legislation says the PA pays around $330 million a year to prisoners and their families, amounting to 7 percent of its budget.
“This is a very dangerous decision that amounts to the cancelation of the Palestinian Authority and is piracy and theft,” Erekat told AFP.
“Israel is stealing the land and money of the Palestinian people and that is a result of the decisions of President (Donald) Trump, who supports Israel.”
The PA headed by President Mahmoud Abbas has limited self-rule in the occupied West Bank where Israel retains overall security control. Palestinians seek a state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital. Hamas, bitter rival of Abbas’ more secular Fatah faction, controls the Gaza Strip
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly demanded that the Palestinians, who view prisoners as national heroes, stop paying stipends to them and their families.
Earlier this year, US lawmakers enacted legislation to sharply reduce the annual $300 million in US aid to the PA unless it took steps to stop making what lawmakers described as payments that reward violent crime.
The measure, known as the Taylor Force Act, was named after a 29-year-old American military veteran fatally stabbed by a Palestinian while visiting Israel in 2016.
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman wrote on Twitter after the vote: “We promised to halt the stipend free-for-all for terrorists and we have made good on our promise. It’s over. Every shekel that Abu Mazen (Abbas) will pay to terrorists and murderers will be automatically deducted from the Palestinian Authority’s budget.” According to Palestinian officials, the payments to inmates serving longer sentences for more serious offenses are larger than to others serving shorter sentences for lighter offenses.
Palestinian officials say that some 6,500 Palestinians are currently being held in Israeli jails.
Youssef Al-Mahmoud, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority government in Ramallah, condemned Israel’s move saying the money belonged to the Palestinians and Israel had no right to hold it back and was violating signed agreements.
“This money belongs to the Palestinian people and this is legislation to steal the money of the prisoners and the martyrs who are symbols of freedom for us and they must not be harmed,” Al-Mahmoud was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Israel has withheld payments in the past, notably in response to the Palestinians’ 2011 admission to the UN cultural agency UNESCO as a full member.


Hundreds of Algerian lawyers protest against Bouteflika

Updated 23 March 2019
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Hundreds of Algerian lawyers protest against Bouteflika

  • They gathered in Algiers’ center, the scene of mass protests for one month
  • Algerians first took to the streets a month ago to protest against Bouteflika’s plan to seek a fifth mandate

ALGIERS: Hundreds of Algerian lawyers protested again on Saturday in the capital to demand the immediate resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika who has been for 20 years in power.
They gathered in Algiers’ center, the scene of mass protests for one month, holding up slogans that read: “Respect the will of the people” and “Yes to a judiciary free from corrupt dignitaries.”
Algerians first took to the streets a month ago to protest against Bouteflika’s plan to seek a fifth mandate.
The 82-year old, who has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013, bowed to the protesters last week by reversing plans to seek re-election.
But he stopped short of quitting as head of state and said he would stay on until a new constitution is adopted. The move further enraged Algerians, and many of Bouteflika’s allies have turned against him.
Some members of the ruling National Liberation Front party, known by its French acronym FLN, have also sided with the demonstrators.
The powerful military has been watching the protests unfold.
The generals have intervened in the past at momentous times, including canceling an election which Islamists were poised to win in 1992, triggering a civil war in which an estimated 200,000 people were killed.
On Friday, hundreds of thousands protested across the North African country.