Roundup: Palestinian Authority ends boycott of Israel, drawing criticism from rival Palestinian factions

Source: Xinhua| 2020-11-18 04:42:58|Editor: huaxia

RAMALLAH, Nov. 17 (Xinhua) -- The Palestinian Authority (PA) said on Tuesday it has resumed its relationship with Israel after a six-month boycott over Israel's plan to annex parts of the West Bank. But the move came under strong criticism from rival Palestinian factions.

In a press statement, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Ishtaye said that Israel sent a written message to the Palestinian leadership saying that "it pledges to abide by the bilateral agreements."

"For this, we resume the relationship with the Israeli authorities," Ishtaye added.

Earlier, Hussein al-Sheikh, head of civil affairs in the PA, said in a press statement that "based on the contacts made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas regarding Israel's commitment to the agreements signed with us, and based on the official written and verbal messages we have received confirming Israel's commitment to that, we restored the relationship with Israel as it was."

A Palestinian source told Xinhua that the restoration of the relationship with Israel includes the resumption of receiving the Palestinian tax revenues collected by Israel.

"Receiving the tax revenues means that the PA will increase the amount of its employees' salaries in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip," the source said.

Senior Israeli officials said that al-Sheikh sent a letter a week ago to Kamil Abu Rukun, coordinator of Israeli activities in the West Bank and Gaza, inquiring about the extent of the Israeli government's commitment to the bilateral agreements.

The officials told the Israeli public radio that the Israeli coordinator sent a letter to al-Sheikh, affirming that Israel is committing to the agreements.

As a result, the PA announced the resumption of its relationship with Israel, the sources noted, adding that Israeli and Palestinian officials are ready to hold meetings to restore their coordination.

On June 3, the PA refused to receive the tax revenue dues from Israel because the Palestinian leadership ended all agreements with Israel to protest its plan to annex parts of the West Bank.

Under the bilateral economic treaty signed between Israel and Palestine in Paris in the 1990s, Israel collects taxes on behalf of the Palestinians from the trade that comes to the Palestinian territories through Israeli-controlled crossings.

Israel agrees to transfer the tax money to the PA every month, which uses it to pay salaries to its employees and cover its operation costs.

For several months, the Israeli government has cut money from the tax revenues, citing that the deducted money represented the amount that the PA pays to the families of Palestinians jailed in Israel or killed while carrying out attacks or other security offenses against Israel.

As a result, the PA has suffered an economic crisis, which led it to ask the European Union (EU) to obtain loans to cover its financial obligations. But the EU rejected the request, while calling on the PA to take the tax revenues from Israel.

However, the Islamic Hamas movement that rules the Gaza Strip condemned the PA's decision to resume its relationship with Israel, considering it as "a stab at national reconciliation efforts" to build a new strategy to confront the challenges of the Palestinian issue.

The movement said in a press statement that "the decision gives justification to the normalization agreements between Arab states and Israel," referring to the peace deals signed recently by Israel with some Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.

The Islamic Jihad Movement also slammed the PA's decision, warning that "it is a dangerous retreat, a departure from the national consensus, and a coup against the outcomes of the meeting of the general secretaries of the factions."

The left-wing Palestinian People's Party also criticized the PA's decision, calling it an "unacceptable decision" for all Palestinian institutions. Enditem