Facing Financial Collapse, Palestinian Authority Refuses Israeli Tax/Tariffs Transfers
The Palestinian Authority refused to accept Israel’s transfer of taxes and tariffs collected on behalf of Ramallah due to Jerusalem’s recent decision to deduct from the total a sum equivalent to what Mahmoud Abbas’ West Bank-based government pays monthly to jailed terrorists and their families. “Our position is as it was: We will not receive any money from Israel if it is incomplete,” Abbas declared as he oversaw a cabinet meeting. “This is something we will not accept at any cost,” he stressed. Israel every month hands over to the PA about $180 million in customs duties levied on Palestinian goods that transit through Israeli ports. In February, however, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ordered the implementation of a parliamentary law stipulating that some $10 million be withheld from those revenues, with the amount corresponding to the stipends paid out as part of the PA’s so-called “pay-for-slay” policy. Israeli media reported that Jerusalem recently transferred one payment – minus the deduction –in hopes that Ramallah would quietly accept the monies. After two weeks, though, the PA returned the funds to Israel’s Finance Ministry finance ministry. Meanwhile, Abbas recently met in Cairo with foreign ministers of the Arab League, which pledged $1.2 billion to the PA to help alleviate its severe financial crisis. The budget deficit is partially the result of US President Donald’s Trump cut-off of hundreds of millions of dollars in direct aid to the PA as well as funds earmarked for humanitarian projects in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.