Israel says Palestinians will not get tax revenues before at least March, after having already confiscated the Palestinian Authority’s December funds. The decision comes as part of Palestine’s “punishment” for last month’s United Nations bid.
“The Palestinians can forget about getting even one cent in the coming four months, and in four months’ time we will decide how to proceed,” Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a peremptory speech on Tuesday night.
Under the current peace deal, Israel collects US$100 million each month in duties on the PA’s behalf in occupied West Bank. These funds are generally used to pay public sector salaries.
Israel has responded viciously to the PA’s UN upgrade to non-member statehood, accusing the PA of sidestepping stalled negotiations, through a UN bid.
“Israel is not prepared to accept unilateral steps by the Palestinian side, and anyone who thinks they will achieve concessions and gains this way is wrong,” he said.
Before confiscating funds in December, Israel announced settlement plans in the E1 sensitive area that would destroy all possibility for a two-state solution, inciting international condemnation.
While making it clear that these steps are a form of retribution, an Israeli iron-fist response meant to instil fear in those that make decisions without permission “unilateral steps” – Israelis mentioned that Palestinians have debts to pay off with Israel Electric Corporation and the Israel Water Authority.
The European Union criticized Israel Monday, saying, “Contractual obligations … regarding full, timely, predictable and transparent transfer of tax and custom revenues have to be respected.”
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Tuesday that Paris will host a donors’ conference early next year to raise funds for the government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.