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After the assassination of an Israeli, Netanyahu wants to reduce the funds of the Palestinian Authority

Since Friday, Ori Ansbacher's juvenile and smiling face is on all Israeli screens. He contrasts with the evocations of his murder, originally described as "Scandalously brutal" by the Israeli police, while the most sordid rumors (evoking a gang rape, an attempt at decapitation …) spread on the Web.

On February 7, the 19-year-old Israeli girl went to change her mind in a forest in southern Jerusalem. Originally from Tekoa (a colony in the occupied West Bank), the teenager sought to forget a dispute in her workplace, a social center where she performed her compulsory service. It is here that Araf Irfayia, a 29-year-old Palestinian armed with a knife, spotted her, was raped and stabbed several times.

At eight weeks of early elections, condolences sent immediately by Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, as well as by his rival in the polls, General Benny Gantz, have reported the seriousness of the crime while the police and Shabak (Israeli Homeland Security) ) had imposed on the media the prohibition to publish any information other than the identity of the victim.

A screed of lead that did not prevent the proliferation of rumors "Unfounded and irresponsible," according to the authorities, with the assistance of public figures. Like the Prime Minister's son, Yair Netanyahu, or the outgoing MP Likud Oren Hazan, who, as early as Friday night, was calling in front of a group of far-right activists gathered in Tel-Aviv. "cut the head" to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in retaliation.

Demolition of the house

In less than twenty-four hours, the Israeli authorities found Arafat Irfaiya, hiding for a while in a mosque in Ramallah. According to Shabak, the man, from Hebron, would have recognized the facts under cover of a mobile "nationalist", leading the authorities to classify the case as "terrorist". On Sunday, Irfaiya participated in the re-enactment of the crime, while the night before, the army had tracked down the demolition of his house, as required by Israeli law.

No Palestinian faction has claimed or celebrated the murder of Ori Ansbacher. Not even Hamas, to whom Irfaiya, already imprisoned twice in ten years for possession of knives, would be affiliated. Unprecedented restraint, related to the sexual nature of the crime. In the Israeli daily Haaretz, a senior Fatah official condemned the crime committed by Irfaiya, adding that the Palestinian Authority (PA) did not send a lawyer to represent him and did not intend to pay him "salary" to which Palestinian prisoners are entitled.

According to the Israeli authorities, the PA spends about 360 million dollars (7% of its budget) every year on the "martyrs" of the Palestinian cause. An envelope that covers both prisoners convicted of terrorist acts and families of Palestinians killed during IDF killings or demonstrations.

For a long time, these aids have been condemned almost unanimously by the Israeli political class and American diplomacy, who see it as a policy inciting terrorism, summed up in a formula: "pay to kill". The PA, on the other hand, asserts a moral but above all social imperative for thousands of families without other resources. As for the Israeli security apparatus, he is convinced that any Palestinian leader who would put an end to this practice would be immediately overthrown, plunging the West Bank into chaos.

Domino effect

In May 2018, the Knesset passed a law calling for the removal of amounts owed by Israel to the PA (via a tax refund mechanism) within the budget allocated to "martyrs". But the measure had not been applied until the murder of Ori Ansbacher.

In the heat of election, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, who is seeking a fifth term, announced Sunday that he plans to implement the retention of these funds. A measure that could have a dangerous domino effect.

The PA, which already accuses the United States of orchestrating a "Financial blockade" against it, could refuse to collect the rest of the income that Israel owes him as long as the amount allocated to the "martyrs" will be cut, in order to create an economic crisis forcing an international intervention. Another option mentioned by analysts: Mahmoud Abbas could deduct these sums of the payments he still agrees to make in Gaza, under the rule of Hamas, pushing the Islamist organization to put the pressure on Israel in turn.

Guillaume Gendron Correspondent in Tel Aviv

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