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Israel Sanctions PA By Freezing Transfer of Taxes

Official reports sanctions over breach of conditions include taxes Israel collects for PA, cap on bank deposits, and no help on gas field.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 4/10/2014, 10:35 PM

(Illustration)
(Illustration)
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An official announced on Thursday that Israel has enacted an additional sanction against the Palestinian Authority (PA), by freezing the transfer of taxes Israel collects for the PA.

"It has been decided to freeze the transfer to the Palestinian Authority of the taxes collected by Israel on its behalf," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity. The sanctions come as a response to the PA's unilateral move to join 15 international conventions last Tuesday, in breach of the peace talk conditions.

Further, the official noted that Israel is suspending participation with the PA to develop a gas field in the sea off of Hamas-controlled Gaza, and putting a cap on PA deposits in Israeli banks.

The new financial measures are expected to be particularly damaging, given that the PA announced in late March that it had reached a whopping $4.8 billion in debt, with the PA's 2014 budgetary deficit at $1.5 billion.

Israel last Thursday informed the PA that it would enact several punitive measures and sanctions against it over the breach of peace talk conditions.

The threats were carried out this Wednesday, as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu gave instructions to government ministries forbidding meetings with PA officials, and halting all civilian and economic cooperation with the PA. Only Defense Ministry communications and the peace talks were not cancelled.

"In response to the Palestinian violation of their commitments under peace talks...Israel government ministers have been told to refrain from meeting their Palestinian counterparts," an Israeli official stated at the time.

Along with the canceling of communication, it was also decided to freeze the implementation of 3G cellular technology in PA-assigned areas and stop the transfer into Gaza of communications equipment belonging to the PA cellular phone company Watania. Another punitive measure was a freeze on promotion master plans for new PA communities in Israeli-controlled Area C in Judea and Samaria.

"Sanctions will dismantle the PA"

Responding to the sanctions, a senior member of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement on Wednesday declared that the sanctions would dismantle the PA.

Speaking to the Ma'an News Agency, Fatah central committee member Azzam al-Ahmad said that the PA will not announce its dismantling outright, but stressed that Israeli actions will "lead to its collapse."

The new sanction comes the same Thursday that reports surfaced of a three-way deal, by which Israel would release hundreds of Arab terrorists and freeze construction in Judea and Samaria, in return for continued peace talks, the release of Jonathan Pollard by the US, and the suspension of some of Abbas's convention requests.

However, one US official speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity stated the "reports are incorrect." After initially reporting that a deal could be near, Channel 2 quoted Israeli sources close to the talks as saying "the reports on the deal are premature," adding that the US State Department said "gaps between Israel and the Palestinians have narrowed, but there is still no deal."