Representational image. Photo: iStock

Israel announced on Sunday that it was going to withhold $138 million in tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority (PA) over its payments to prisoners jailed for attacks on Israelis.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement that the withheld funds would be equal to that paid by the PA last year to “terrorists imprisoned in Israel, to their families and to released prisoners.”

Israel claims the payments encourage further violence.

The PA says the payments are intended as welfare support for families who have lost their main breadwinner and denies it is seeking to encourage violence.

Many Palestinians view prisoners and those killed while carrying out attacks as heroes in their conflict with Israel. Palestinian leaders often venerate them, describing them as martyrs.

Senior Palestine Liberation Organization official Ahmed Majdalani accused Israel and the United States, which has cut hundreds of millions of dollars in Palestinian aid, of using blackmail tactics.

US President Donald Trump’s White House is expected to release its long-awaited peace plan later this year, which the Palestinians believe will be blatantly biased in favor of the Israelis.

The Palestinians cut off contact with the White House after Trump’s 2017 declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“The occupation government is seeking to destroy the national authority in partnership with the US administration of Donald Trump,” Majdalani said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Israeli police on Sunday evicted a Palestinian family from their home in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, after the supreme court ruled Jewish claimants were the rightful owners.

An AFP photographer said residents of the neighborhood in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem scuffled with police, who stood guard as about a dozen Israeli settlers took possession of the large building.

A police spokesman said two people were detained.

“They disturbed police activities,” he told AFP but could not say if they were later released.

Rania Abu Asab, who lived in the house with her husband, their children and his aunt, stood crying outside as the settlers raised the Israeli flag on the roof.

“We live there, it’s my house, it’s my whole life,” she said. “They took everything.”

She said the family was compelled to leave behind all its furniture and belongings.

Ir Amim, an Israeli watchdog group which monitors settlement activity in Jerusalem, reported on February 3 that the Abu Asab family had been served an eviction notice ordering them to vacate the property by February 12.

It said family members had lived there since the 1960s.

– with reporting by Agence France-Presse

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