Arab League Pledges $100 Million Monthly to PA as Israel Continues to Withhold Palestinian Taxes

Palestinian President tells the Arab League he rejects the Trump peace plan

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Arab League Secretary-General, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, left, welcomes Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Egypt Sunday, April 21, 2019.
Arab League Secretary-General, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, left, welcomes Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, April 21, 2019. Credit: Amr Nabil,AP

The Arab League has pledged $100 million per month to the Palestinian Authority to make up for funds withheld by Israel because of payments made to the families of Palestinian attackers and prisoners.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the Arab League in Cairo on Sunday as part of a diplomatic effort to rebuff the Trump administration's Middle East peace plan, which American officials indicate could be released this summer.

Abbas says "the Arabs need to be engaging actively at this critical time."

>> Israel and Hamas seal deal, but turning back on Abbas could come at a price | Analysis ■ 'As long as Jerusalem isn't on the table, Trump's plan won't be either,' Abbas adviser warns

Abbas says the Palestinians reject the deal and demand Israel fully withdraw from all occupied territories. Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians seek those territories for a future state.

Last week, PA spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh said that "As long as Jerusalem is not on the table, Trump's plan will not be on the table" either.

"The Israeli decision to cut back 42 million shekels a month from tax money we deserve has led to security personnel not receiving the salaries they are due, and this will have grave repercussions," he added, relating to a decision by Israel in February to freeze the transfer of tax money it collects on behalf of the PA.

Last week, the Washington Post reported that conversations with Arab officials indicated that the U.S. president's plan, which is being coordinated by a team of advisers headed by his son-in-law Jared Kushner, may not include a sovereign Palestinian state.The U.S. administration has been toiling for months on a peace plan that Trump's son-in-law and special envoy Jared Kushner said would not be unveiled before June.

In February, the Israeli government decided 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, their families and released prisoners.

After Israel decided to freeze the funds, the PA refused to accept the partial transfer of tax revenues from Israel. "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," Abbas said.

Under the 1994 Paris Protocol, which established a customs union between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Israel is supposed to collect value-added tax, import duties and other taxes on the PA's behalf and hand them over on a monthly basis.

Israel controls all international crossings, meaning the PA cannot have any independent import or export arrangements. Withholding funds contravenes the Paris Protocol.

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