Meretz MK apologizes for justifying Palestinian Authority’s ‘pay-to-slay’ stipends
Lawmaker Gaby Lasky from the left-wing Meretz party apologized Friday for saying that payments made by the Palestinian Authority to the families of terrorists are necessary to prevent the exploitation of women and children.
“My statement was out of place and did not justify for a moment the crime of terrorism, and I apologize for it,” Lasky said on Twitter.
“I unequivocally condemn yesterday’s horrific attack,” she said, referring to Thursday’s terror shooting in Tel Aviv that left three dead and several wounded when a gunman opened fire at a bar. “I send my condolences to the families.”
Her apology came after she told the Kan public broadcaster that while “hard to hear,” there was a need for the payments.
“They need to be provided with a livelihood to prevent the exploitation of children and women, or for them moving toward terrorism,” Lasky said when questioned about the payments.
“It’s hard to hear that, but it’s the truth,” she said.
Her comments immediately provoked a storm of outrage.
Communications Minster Yoaz Hendel condemned the comment.
“A delusional statement — whoever goes out to murder Jews must know that his house will be demolished and his family will suffer,” Hendel said.
“Lasky’s remarks are severe, irresponsible and completely contrary to the government’s position,” Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar said. “Compensation to terrorists and their families by the Palestinian Authority for their criminal acts encourages terrorism.”
The opposition Likud party seized on Lansky’s statement as “proof that [Prime Minister Naftali] Bennett’s weak government is incapable of defeating terrorism.”
The Palestinian Authority’s practice of paying allowances to those convicted of carrying out terror attacks and to the families of those killed while carrying out attacks — often referred to by some Israeli officials as a pay-to-slay policy — has been pilloried by critics as incentivizing terror.
Palestinian leaders have long defended the payments, describing them as a form of social welfare and necessary compensation for victims of Israel’s military justice system in the West Bank.
The United States has pressured Ramallah to end the policy in recent years. In 2018, Congress passed legislation banning the US government from sending aid to the PA until it ended the practice. The matter remains a key bone of contention between the two sides.
Channel 12 reported on Friday that officials from Bennett’s office asked the US to pressure the Palestinian Authority to cut payments to the Tel Aviv terrorist’s father.
The father, Fathi Hazem, is a former security prisoner who previously served as a senior officer the the Palestinian Authority’s security services in Jenin, and thus already receives a stipend from the authority. He applauded his son’s terrorist attack on Friday.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz has brought up the terror payments in all of his meetings with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Channel 12 said.
Friday’s political bickering among coalition lawmakers set off by Lasky’s comments came as the government teeters on the brink.
Yamina lawmaker Idit Silman, formerly the coalition whip, quit the government on Wednesday in a shocking announcement that stripped the coalition of its legislative majority and making its collapse likely.