Israel's decision to cut PA tax revenues to cause acute economy decline: officials

Source: Xinhua| 2019-02-19 01:08:48|Editor: xuxin
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A Palestinian holds a photo of her relative held in Israeli jails as she takes part in a protest against an Israeli decision to trim funds over prisoner stipends, in the West Bank city of Nablus, Feb. 19, 2019. The Israeli cabinet said on Sunday that it was freezing the transfer of about half a billion of shekels (138.22 million U.S. dollars) to the Palestinian National Authority (PA). (Xinhua/Nidal Eshtayeh)

RAMALLAH/GAZA, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) -- The recent Israeli government's decision to withhold part of the tax revenues of the Palestinian Authority (PA) may lead to a severe deterioration in the Palestinian economy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinian officials said on Monday.

The warning came after the Israeli security cabinet decided on Sunday to withhold over 138 million U.S. dollars in PA tax revenues that Israel collects from the Palestinian trade on behalf of the PA.

The cabinet said in a statement that "it is the amount that Israeli officials say the PA paid in stipends to attackers and their families."

Senior PA officials stated on Monday that the PA started large and intensive contacts with the international community to confront the Israeli decision of cutting the tax revenues Israel pays to the PA treasure after it collects from the Palestinian trade at seaports and crossing points.

Ibrahim Khreisheh, the PA ambassador at the United Nations Council of Human Rights (UNCHR), told Voice of Palestine Radio that the decision would lead to an acute deterioration in the Palestinian economy, adding that "contacts were already held with European countries to brief them on the Israeli decision of piracy."

He also said that other contacts are being held with the UNCHR and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), adding "I will meet officials in the Swiss Foreign Ministry on Tuesday to brief them on the consequences of the Israeli decision that violates Geneva Conventions."

"The current Israeli craziness precedes the election's campaign in Israel in order to gain more votes that back the extremists in the Israeli society on the expenses of the Palestinian cause," said Khreisheh.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister of the caretaker Palestinian government Rami Hamdallah said in a statement that the Israeli decision is part of a plan to "destroy the Palestinian Authority and steal its ability to carry on providing services to its people and fulfill its commitments towards them."

"Cutting money from our tax revenues puts the Palestinian economy in risk and threatens our abilities to ... pay the salaries and wages of our employees on time," said Hamdallah.

He called on the international community to oblige Israel to "stop using our money to punish us." He also called on Arab countries to "revive the secure Arab financial network to enable the Palestinian people to confront such punitive Israeli measures."

The PA ministry of finance also said in a statement that the Israeli decision "is a bullet fired at the remains of Paris Economy Accord signed between Israel and the Palestinians. The ministry called for disconnecting from this humiliating agreement."

Paris Economy Accord was signed in France in 1994 between Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel, aiming at organizing the economic relationship between Israel and the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

However, the accord wasn't fully implemented due to deep political differences on the final status issues between the two sides.

In Gaza, a Palestinian official warned on Monday that the economic growth indicators in the Gaza Strip have completely stopped and economy is on the verge of bankruptcy.

Chairman of the Palestinian businessmen association, Ali al-Hayek, said in an emailed press statement that the economic deterioration is attributed to the humanitarian and social crises hitting the Gaza Strip and the ongoing Israeli blockade imposed on it since mid-2007.

"The crises storming Gaza economic sectors are the most serious since the beginning of the Palestinian division and the Israeli blockade," he said, adding that "economic crises have sharply worsened unemployment rates, poverty and food insecurity."