Abbas to defy Israeli law and continue Palestinian prisoner payments

Israelis take part in a rally near the Gaza border calling for the return of the bodies of IDF soldiers being held by Hamas

At least 136 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops during mass demonstrations along the Gaza border since March 30 and the Gazans sending the kites over the fence believe they have found an effective new weapon.

"The money we pay to families of prisoners and martyrs, which Israel opposes, we will not allow anyone to intervene with it", said Abbas, whose Western-backed Palestinian Authority has limited self-rule in the occupied West Bank.

Israel has demanded the return of two Israeli civilians who it says crossed into Gaza and are being held by Hamas, as well as the bodies of two soldiers who were killed in a 2014 war against the Strip.

The stipends amount to approximately $330 million, or about 7 percent of the Palestinian Authority's $5 billion budget in 2018.

After the law comes into force, payments made by the PA to Palestinian security prisoners and their families would be deducted from the tax revenue given to Ramallah. "This is nothing short of highway robbery, this is real piracy, they are stealing Palestinian funds, it's not theirs to decide what to do with it, if we were free we wouldn't need Israel to collect customs".

"We informed the world that we are against the deal of the century, we won't accept it and we won't let it pass", Abbas told the committee's members, adding "we would like to reiterate that our Arab brothers asserted to us that they are against it". "We are watching and are waiting and we will take the appropriate measures that suit our interest".

Palestinian officials say that some 6,500 Palestinians are now being held in Israeli jails.

The bill is similar to the United States' Taylor Force act passed roughly a month ago, which similarly slashes aid to the PA unless it cease payments to families of terrorists convicted in Israeli courts.

Around 35,000 families receive support from the fund.

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