The Palestinians are calling on the international community to pressure Israel into ignoring debts and releasing all withheld Palestinian tax revenues.
The Palestinian cabinet condemned on Tuesday Israel’s decision to deduct close to 300 million shekels ($75 million) from the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) tax revenues to cover unpaid debts, Palestinian Wafa News Agency reports.
The Palestinian cabinet stated its “utmost rejection to Israel’s repeated act of withholding Palestinian tax revenues” and its deducting of 300 million shekels, describing it as “a premeditated crime,” a collective punishment against Palestinians, and a blatant violation of previous agreements and international resolutions.
It called on the international community to pressure Israel to release the entire sum and to put an end to “this illegal action.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided on Sunday to release the frozen tax funds Israel had collected on behalf of the PA, citing regional stability, humanitarian concerns and an “overall consideration of Israel’s interests at this time.”
The Palestinians owe over a billion shekels to Israel’s Electric Corporation (IEC) and many millions to Israeli hospitals. A small fraction of that sum was deducted from the funds transferred to the PA.
The decision in January to withhold the funds was made in response to the PA’s bid to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) in order to charge the Jewish State with “war crimes” as part of its diplomatic campaign against Israel.
In the meantime, the Palestinian Finance Ministry stated that the deductions made by Israel to cover services provided to the Palestinians had not been bilaterally discussed nor “agreed upon” and constitute “an unjustified and illegal procedure that could cause complications.”
The ministry charged that transferring the Palestinian tax revenues “is not a favor done by the Israeli government” and that the Palestinian government rejects any “unilateral deductions outside the appropriate calculation mechanism.”
Acting to address the financial crisis facing the PA, the Ministry has borrowed from local banks to pay some of the wages owed public servants, Wafa reports.