Palestinian Authority Slams Israel’s Decision to Withhold Tax Transfers
The Palestinian Authority has slammed Israel’s decision to withhold a portion of the taxes and tariffs it collects on Ramallah’s behalf. While Jerusalem remits to the PA about $200 million every month, the Cabinet over the weekend approved a proposal to begin deducting approximately $40 million from each installment – the rough equivalent of the sum the Palestinian leadership pays in monthly “salaries” to jailed terrorists and to the families of those killed while perpetrating terrorist attacks against Israelis. In response, PA Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh released a statement describing the Israeli move “as another step of escalation designed to impose a financial blockade on [the West Bank].” He added that the PA would “continue to pay salaries to the martyrs and families of the wounded no matter the cost,” and suggested that retaliatory steps would be taken. According to reports, the head of Israel’s internal security agency (Shin Bet) warned Cabinet ministers that the financial cutoff could spark Palestinian civil unrest. The Israeli parliament in 2018 passed a law that requires withholding funds equal to the amount the PA distributes as part of its “pay-for-slay” policy. However, the law has only been partially implemented over fears that the PA’s financial collapse could lead to Hamas’ emergence in areas directly adjacent to major Israeli population centers.