Abbas Takes Israel to Task for Withholding Taxes to Palestinian Authority

Israel is withholding NIS 500m in tax receipts from the Palestinians, representing the amount the PA has paid terrorists and their families

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting with Palestinian leaders at the Muqata, the Palestinian Authority headquarters, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on February 20, 2019.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas lashed out at Israel on Wednesday for its decision to deduct 500 million shekels ($138.2 million) from taxes that would otherwise be transferred to the PA. Israel announced the deduction to offset an equivalent sum paid by the Palestinian Authority to Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons and to their families and released prisoners.

The Palestinians would not accept any money from Israel if any sum at all is deducted, Abbas said.

“On behalf of the Palestinian people and leadership, we condemn and reject the arbitrary Israeli decision, and stress that we will not accept the money if even a cent is missing,” Abbas told a Palestinian leadership meeting in Ramallah. “Either we get all our money and rights, or we won’t get anything. If they deduct some of it, they can deduct all of it.”

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Abbas declared Israel’s decision “an act of theft and plunder,” adding that it was aimed at pressuring the PA to accept U.S. President Donald Trump’s forthcoming Middle East peace plan. Referring to the agreement regulating economic relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Abbas called the withholding of the funds "a nail in the coffin of the Paris Protocol, and Israel’s renunciation of all the agreements it has signed with the Palestine Liberation Organization.”

Abbas said Palestinian prisoners and the Palestinian dead are his top priority. He promised that the PA would pay "any amount of money that is raised so everyone understands that they are the most respected and appreciated part of the Palestinian people.”

On Sunday, the Israeli security cabinet passed a resolution suspending payment of the 500 million shekels, funds deducted from the hundreds of millions of shekels that Israel transfers each month to the Palestinian Authority in taxes that it collects on behalf of the PA.

Abbas' office issued a statement in response saying: “We strongly condemn any cut to the Palestinians’ money. It is the Palestinian people’s money.” Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh, added: “The Palestinian leadership will not agree to any harm to the heroic prisoners and the families of the dead and wounded. We view Israel’s decision as a unilateral move that harms the signed agreements between Israel and the PA, and in this context, the Paris economic protocol as well.”