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Council of Europe tells PA to stop supporting prisoners' families

Hundreds of Palestinians protest for the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails in Bethlehem, West Bank on April 17, 2017 [Mamoun Wazwaz/Anadolu Agency]
Hundreds of Palestinians protest for the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails in Bethlehem, West Bank on 17 April 2017 [Mamoun Wazwaz/Anadolu Agency]

The Council of Europe has called upon the Palestinian Authority to halt the payments it distributes to the families of Palestinian prisoners and those who have been killed by Israeli forces, the Jerusalem Post has reported. The Israeli narrative swayed the council during its parliamentary session, prompting it to make the demand for the first time as part of a broader call for a resolution on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

"After a persistent effort we succeeded for the first time to include in the final report [resolution] a clear call to stop support for terrorists [sic] and their families," said Yesh Atid MK Aliza Lavie, who addressed the council in Strasbourg.

The rest of the session addressed the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and reiterated that a two-state solution with East Jerusalem as Palestine's capital was the only solution to the conflict.

Read: Israel tries to block draft resolution denouncing Trump's Jerusalem decision

Israel and the US have long berated the PA for providing crucial subsidies to the families of those impacted by the occupation, framing the money as a reward for "terrorists". In September, the Trump administration announced its backing for a bill that would suspend US aid to the PA until the latter ended payments to prisoners and their families.

"The Trump administration strongly supports the Taylor Force Act, which is a consequence of Palestinian Authority and Palestine Liberation Organisation's policy of paying terrorists and their families," the State Department said at the time.

Palestinian officials have said that the payments are support for relatives "who lost their breadwinners to the atrocities of the occupation, the vast majority of whom are unduly arrested or killed by Israel."

In the aftermath of a resistance attack, the families of the alleged perpetrators often find their homes being demolished, their relatives arrested and their land taken. Amnesty International is one of many human rights groups that have repeatedly condemned such reprisals as a form of "collective punishment". Consequently, many Palestinians find themselves reliant on the benefits from the PA in order to survive.

Read: Israel demolitions in East Jerusalem in 2017 second highest since 2000

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