Israel freezes Palestinian taxes earmarked to support terror

In the West Bank city of Ramallah, hundreds of Palestinians protested against the Israeli security cabinet’s decision to withhold around five-percent of taxes that are transferred on a monthly basis to the Palestinian Authority, over/ due to its continued financial support for convicted terrorists and their families. Under the 1993 Oslo Accords, Israel collects taxes on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, who has put the current sum at a little over 220 million US-Dollars a month.

The decision to freeze five percent of the taxes, came after the Palestinian Authority continuously rejects Israeli demands to halt its practice of paying monthly stipends to families of Palestinians who were either killed or incarcerated during the commitment of terror related offences; with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas calling them “heroes of the national Palestinian struggle.” In an effort to combat this practice, the Israeli Parliament adopted a new law in 2018 that effectively provides the Israeli security cabinet with the legal-power to act, by slashing the amount the Palestinian Authority pays the terrorists from the taxes transferred to them on a monthly basis.

Following the legislation of this new law, Israeli Security officials presented data to the effect that in 2018, the Palestinian Authority transferred a little over half-a-million-shekels to terrorists imprisoned in Israel and their families which is approximately 121 thousand euros or 137 thousand U.S. Dollars. Therefore, the Israeli Security Cabinet released a statement in which it announced its decision “to freeze the same amount of funds from the tax revenues that Israel collects for the Palestinian Authority.” The Israeli decision has infuriated the Palestinian Authority, which warned of dire consequences that may even lead “to an outburst” of violence. According to Qadura Fares, who is the Chairman of the Palestinian Prisoner Club, the Palestinian Authority is currently considering its options, and will take a set of actions to counter the Israeli measure. Fares said that “The Palestinian Authority will take a set of actions. I believe that one of them will be to refuse to receive any money unless we receive our tax rights fully. The second step is to prevent the Israeli goods from entering, we cannot continue to be a market for the Israeli companies and factories. In addition to that, the Palestinian people will go out to the streets to express their refusal over these policies.” It is important to note that while the Palestinian taxes make-up a large portion of the Palestinian Authority’s budget, an estimated thirty percent of its annual budget comes from Foreign aid – with the European Union topping the list of most generous donor.

Furthermore, it has been revealed that last month the Palestinians declined some 60 million dollars in U.S. annual funding for the Palestinian Security Forces. According to a Palestinian source, the decision was made after concerns emerged about possible exposure to lawsuits under the new U.S. anti-terror law, known as the Taylor Force Act, which allows the U.S. Administration to sharply reduce the aid allocated to the Palestinian Authority if it doesn’t stop the financial support of terrorists and their families. The United States passed the Taylor Force Act last year, after a 29-year-old American military veteran was fatally stabbed by a Palestinian terrorist while visiting Israel in 2016.