Palestinians Deny Halting War Crimes Charges Against Israel in Exchange for Tax Revenues

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Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki (C) leaves the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague, Aug. 5, 2014.Credit: Reuters

Senior Palestinian officials have vehemently denied a report in the Israeli media, which claimed that the Palestinian Authority has agreed to halt efforts to get Israeli charged with war crimes in exchange for Friday's decision by Jerusalem to unfreeze part of the tax revenues collected on behalf of the PA.

A senior Palestinian official told Haaretz that the report, which first appeared in The Jerusalem Post, was entirely false and merely spin put out by the Prime Minister's Office.

"We continue to seek membership of the International Criminal Court and we expect the ICC to open an investigation into Israeli settlements, as well as the recent war in Gaza," the official said.

"The reports in the Israeli newspapers are nothing more than spin from Netanyahu's bureau; there was no such agreement. The money that Netanyahu transferred is Palestinian money and he isn't doing us any favors."

As far as the Palestinian Authority is concerned, the official added, Ramallah is more determined than ever to forge ahead with war crimes charges in The Hague.

"This Wednesday," he said, "Palestine will become a member of the ICC and the Palestinian Foreign Minister, Dr. Riyad al-Maliki, will represent the Palestinians in The Hague." He added that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said as much during the Arab League summit in Egypt over the weekend.

Israel announced on Friday that it would the transfer of hundreds of millions of shekels in tax revenues to the PA. The revenues, which Israel collects on behalf of the PA, have been withheld for the past four months, following Ramallah's referral of Israel to the International Criminal Court in The Hague for possible war crimes.

The Prime Minister's Office said in its statement that Netanyahu had accepted the recommendation of Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, the Israel Defense Forces, and the Shin Bet security service that the revenues be transferred.

Israel will transfer tax revenues that have accumulated since February, less payments for services provided by Israeli entities, including the Israel Electricity Corporation, the water authority and hospitals.

In recent months, Israel has been under intense pressure from the United States and the European Union to transfer the funds, due to the precarious economic situation in the Palestinian territories and out of concern that economic collapse could lead to anarchy in the West Bank.

That same concern motivated Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, his predecessor Lt. Gen. (ret.) Benny Gantz, Shin Bet head Yossi Cohen, the coordinator of government activities in the territories Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai and other senior security officials to pressure for the transfer of the funds.

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