EU Foreign Policy Chief: Israel Violating Oslo Accords by Freezing Palestinian Tax Revenues

Federica Mogherini's statement doesn't mention PA's request to join ICC, but calls on both sides to refrain from taking actions that could prevent 'a rapid return to negotiations.'

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, left, attends a media conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Jerusalem, Nov. 7, 2014.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, left, attends a media conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Jerusalem, Nov. 7, 2014.Credit: Reuters
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

The EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, Federica Mogherini, called on Israel on Tuesday to immediately renew the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority, calling the recent freeze on the funds a violation of the Oslo Accords.

Mogherini stressed in a statement that Israel's decision to freeze the transfer of tax revenue "runs counter to Israel's obligations under the Paris Protocol" – the economic part of the Oslo Accords. According to Mogherini, the EU provides extensive financial aid to the Palestinian Authority to build the institutions and infrastructure of the future Palestinian state. "These achievements should not be put at risk by not meeting obligations regarding the timely and transparent transfer of tax and custom revenues," she said.

Mogherini's statement didn't mention the Palestinian move to sign the Rome Statute and their request to join the International Criminal Court at The Hague, saying only that "recent steps taken by Palestinians and Israelis could aggravate the already tense situation on the ground and bring them further away from a negotiated solution." The foreign policy chief called on both sides to "refrain from taking actions which could raise obstacles to the rapid return to the negotiations."

Meretz chairwoman Zahava Gal-On said following Mogherini's statement that "if the Palestinian had the right to vote, they would probably pick Netanyahu. He been doing them a great public relations service and is isolating Israel around the world." Gal-On added: "The Palestinians could not have hoped for a better lobbyist on their way to deciding to join the international tribunal at The Hague."

France warns Palestinians

Also on Tuesday, France warned the Palestinians against escalating a diplomatic battle with Israel after President Mahmoud Abbas said he would resubmit to the UN Security Council a resolution calling for the creation of a Palestinian state.

France, one of the Council's five permanent members, backed the initial resolution despite some reservations. France's parliament also backed Palestinian independence in a symbolic vote on Dec. 2 that underlined Europe's impatience with a stalled Middle East peace process.

But Paris signaled concern that Abbas' diplomatic offensive could harm chances for peace by antagonizing Israel.

"We are against the logic of letting this spiral (out of control)," Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters.

"While we think the Palestinians have the right to move the status quo, at the same time there has to be an effort to find a consensus solution. Once you set this cycle off, you get results that you don't want one way or another."

On Monday, the U.S. State Department also criticized Israel for freezing the tax revenues. "We conveyed to the Israelis that freezing the tax revenues is an action that raises tensions," U.S. State Department Spokesman Jen Psaki told reporters. "We oppose to any actions that raise tensions and we call on both sides to avoid it.

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Netanyahu about the Palestinian efforts over the course of the weekend, Psaki said, adding that the U.S. was in contact with the Palestinian leadership over the matter as well. "We would like to prevent it [the ICC bid] from moving forward," Psaki said.

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