Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has carried out his threat to insist on canceling the Paris Protocol economic pact of the Oslo Accords, a PA minister told AFP Sunday.
"I made a request to the Israeli government through the Defense Ministry...that the Palestinian Authority officially requests the reopening of the Paris Protocol which is not compatible with the current economic situation," said civil affairs minister Hussein al-Sheikh.
The Paris agreement was signed by the PA and Israel in 1994 and was to last during the “interim agreement” before a final status for the Palestinian Authority, a step that has not been hurdled the past two years following Abbas’ refusal to accept any compromise in his territorial and political demands.
He warned last November, after failing in his bid to bypass negotiations and have the United Nations recognize the Palestinian Authority as in independent entity, he would unravel the agreement.
He claimed, "The (current) arrangement is unfair and has articles which are keeping the Palestinian economy from stabilizing…and "prevent land development.”
The 1994 Paris Protocols outline the legal and financial stipulations for the transfer of tax funds and levies, imposed mostly on goods transferred to the PA through Israel's various ports, which are collected by Israel on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. The agreement was part of the Oslo Accords, which includes several commitments that the PA has not honored, such as combatting incitement and terrorism, and restricting the size of a PA police force.
One of the PA's recent objections to the agreement is Israel's often withholding collected tax revenues because of PA incitement to terror.
The Palestinian Authority economy has grown rapidly under the Paris Protocols the past decade but faces increasing difficulties because of a massive civil service and a near-total dependence on foreign aid.
Abbas’ attempt to tear apart the accords coincides with worker’s protests that threaten to blow up into an internal Intifada. The demand to scrap the Paris agreement is an attempt to put the blame on Israel for the PA’s economic woes.
"The president [Abbas] told me as head of civilian affairs to give the Israelis an official request to reopen the Paris Protocol -- to re-examine it, to adjust it and to change it as soon as possible," Sheikh explained.
"We are waiting for the Israeli response and if they approve, a committee will be formed from the negotiations department and other specialized groups to start discussing the changes."
Israel has not replied.
The Foreign Ministry said after the Protocols were signed in 1994, “This protocol lays the groundwork for strengthening the economic base of the Palestinian side and for exercising its right of economic decision making in accordance with its own development plan and priorities. The two parties recognize each other's economic ties with other markets and the need to create a better economic environment for their peoples and individuals.”
The Palestinian Investment Promotion Agency also stated, “A result of applying the Israeli import policy is that bilateral trade agreements between Israel and other parties are considered valid in Palestine. Currently, Palestinian traders can benefit from free trade agreements with Canada, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Turkey and Slovakia.”