(March 7, 2019 / Israel Hayom) Israel has one week to reinstate funds it has deducted from the taxes it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, otherwise, the P.A. will seek to reopen the Paris Protocol, the office of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas warned in a statement on Wednesday.
The Paris Protocol was an amendment to the Oslo II Accord of 1995.
In February, the Israeli cabinet authorized a deduction of some 500 million shekels (nearly $140 million) from the P.A. due to its longstanding policy of paying monthly stipends to convicted terrorists and their families.
The P.A.’s finance minister wrote in a letter to Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, among other things, that “the cuts to the P.A. taxes that Israel collects for the [P.A.] are intolerable and contravene the Oslo Accords and the economic amendations signed in Paris.”
It should be noted that according to the Palestinian Authority, Israel also deducted funds earmarked for various other services for which the Palestinians rely on Israel, such as electricity, water and other infrastructure.
P.A. Foreign Minister Riad Malki, meanwhile, has asked international bodies to pressure Israel to return the deducted funds, which puts considerable strain on the P.A.’s monthly budget.
The taxes Israel collects on the P.A.’s behalf amount to 60 percent of its overall budget.
The P.A. expressed outrage over the Israeli decision and a senior official in Abbas’s office threatened to “dismantle the P.A.”
The official added: “The Israeli cabinet’s decision is a gross and unilateral violation of the Paris Protocol. We will take the appropriate steps, and even consider dismantling the P.A. and returning economic responsibility [for Palestinian affairs] to Israel.”
Despite the cabinet’s measure, the P.A.’s transition government, following the resignation of former Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, still transferred the stipends to Palestinian security prisoners and the families of shahids (“martyrs”).
“Israel is grossly violating the agreements and the consequences will be severe,” said Abbas. “This is another blockade on the Palestinian people, who are buckling under the crimes of the occupation—and all of these measures against us began with [U.S. President Donald] Trump’s plan. We will not allow it.”