Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas threatens Israel over tax deductions

April 7, 2015 1:31 pm
The move comes after international pressure on Israel to
release the monthly funds, which account for two-thirds of the
Palestinians’ annual budget, excluding foreign aid.

 Palestinian President Mahamoud Abbas confirmed yesterday two-thirds of the money had been transferred. Photo / AP

Palestinian President has threatened to turn to the
International Criminal Court over Israel’s refusal to fully release
hundreds of millions of dollars in tax money owed to the Palestinian
Authority.
In early January, Israel froze the monthly transfer of
funds it collects on behalf of the PA as a punitive measure after the
Palestinians moved to join the ICC.
On Saturday, Israel agreed to release the funds after deducting debts for electricity, water and medical services.
Speaking yesterday, Abbas confirmed two-thirds of the money had been transferred.
“They
said they were going to send the money and in the end they did, but a
third of it was deducted – why?” he asked during a speech in the West
Bank city of Ramallah.

A source close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday told AFP that "a portion of the money" had been transferred to the Palestinian Authority. Photo / AP
A source close to Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday told AFP that “a portion of the money” had
been transferred to the Palestinian Authority. Photo / AP

“Now, we have a new file to take to the ICC, first there was
the war in Gaza [last year], then there was the settlements and now the
Palestinian leadership is considering presenting this issue to the court
in due time.”
The Palestinians would not accept anything but the full amount, he said.
“We will not take the money until we get all of it: either you give us the full amount or we go to the ICC.”
When
the announcement was made on Saturday, Israel did not say how much
money would be transferred nor whether it would resume the normal
monthly payment of about US$127 million ($167 million) in customs
duties.
The move comes after international pressure on Israel to
release the monthly funds, which account for two-thirds of the
Palestinians’ annual budget, excluding foreign aid.
A source
close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday told AFP
that “a portion of the money” had been transferred to the Palestinian
Authority.
The source added that Israel had “assured the United States today that the remaining amount can be transferred at any moment”.
Under
an economic agreement between the sides signed in 1994, Israel
transfers to the PA tens of millions of dollars each month in customs
duties levied on goods destined for Palestinian markets that transit
through Israeli ports.
Although the sanction has been imposed
many times, it has rarely lasted more than one or two months, except in
2006 when Hamas won a landslide victory in Palestinian legislative
elections and Israel froze the funds for six months.
Blocking the money also prevents the PA paying its roughly 180,000 employees, which costs almost US$200 million a month.

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