Palestinian Authority Rejects EU Proposal for Israeli-Palestinian Tax Crisis

The EU offered to mediate between the two parties so that Palestinian prisoners are paid based on families' socioeconomic status, not their crimes

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas chairs a session of the weekly cabinet meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, in Ramallah in the West Bank, April 29, 2019.
Majdi Mohammed/Reuters

The Palestinian Authority rejected on Wednesday a proposal by the European Union to have Palestinian prisoners receive stipends based on their financial state rather than the crimes they committed. 

In an attempt to keep the PA from financial collapse, EU officials proposed to mediate between Israeli and Palestinian officials. 

EU officials and the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee met in Brussels and proposed to mediate between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Sources at the meeting told Haaretz that the EU’s proposal “is similar to Israel’s national insurance.”

The chairman of the PLO Prisoners Affairs, Qadri Abu Bakr, told Haaretz that no Palestinian leader could agree to the proposal. 

>> Read more: Do you like withholding Palestinian tax money? Enjoy the war | Opinion ■ Who will help Netanyahu save the Oslo Accords this time? | Analysis

“We’re talking about a very principled issue for the Palestinian people,” Abu Bakr said. “The prisoners are freedom fighters and from our perspective they have the status of security forces. They are getting a pension because they are security personnel," he added. 

Another senior PA official involved in the payments said that with the support of the U.S., Israel has been trying in recent months to get rid of every Palestinian national symbol and principle.

“First there was the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, then the issue of the refugees and the cuts to UNRWA, and now they are trying to turn the prisoners issue into a socioeconomic issue and remove their national importance from the agenda,” he said.  

“It won’t work because no one will agree to such a compromise.” He noted that this was an issue of narrative and a very sensitive matter, which is why no Palestinian leader could accept such a change.

In February, Israel reduced its payments to the PA, deducting the sum that the authority pays to security prisoners in Israeli prisons and their families. In response, the PA has been refusing to accept any money.

This money — from taxes that Israel collects on behalf of the PA — accounts for 63 percent of the PA’s budget.