Israel to Withhold PA Funds Till March
Israel will withhold funds collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority until at least March, according to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
Speaking to Yisrael Beyteynu activists in Tel Aviv on Tuesday night, Lieberman warned that the transfer of monies to the PA might not take place even in March, adding that the entity owed Israel NIS 1.6 billion.
"The Palestinians can forget about getting even one cent in the coming four months, and in four months' time we will decide how to proceed,” Lieberman said.
The transfer of monies that was due this week has not taken place.
Instead, the Cabinet decided at a meeting last week to use those funds to offset the $200 million debt owed to the Israel Electric Company by the PA for its use of Israel's electricity grid.
In addition, the PA also owes money to the Israel Water Authority.
"Israel is not prepared to accept unilateral steps by the Palestinian side, and anyone who thinks they will achieve concessions and gains this way is wrong,” Lieberman said.
The European Union criticized Israel on Monday for the move, saying “Contractual obligations... regarding full, timely, predictable and transparent transfer of tax and custom revenues have to be respected.”
However, the majority of EU nations voted to approve de facto recognition of the PA as a sovereign nation at the United Nations General Assembly last month when a resolution passed to grant the entity status as a nonmember observer state -- a blatant violation of the PA's contractual obligation under the internationally-recognized Oslo Accords to reach a final status agreement with Israel through direct negotiations.
Only seven nations – including Israel, Canada, the Czech Republic and the United States – opposed the resolution.