PA cabinet leader accuses Israel of blackmail

Mohammad Shtayyeh says PA is trying to get tax revenue from Israel without being subjected to any "Israeli blackmail."

Elad Benari ,

Mohammad Shtayyeh
Mohammad Shtayyeh

Palestinian Authority (PA) cabinet leader Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Monday that the PA is trying to get its tax revenue dues from Israel, without being subjected to any "Israeli blackmail."

"The tax revenue dues are the money of the Palestinian people, and we are trying to obtain them without Israel's blackmail," Shtayyeh told the weekly cabinet meeting held in Ramallah, according to the Xinhua news agency.

Under an economic treaty reached in 1995, Israel collects taxes from PA importers on behalf of the PA and transfers the funds back to the PA every month.

However, Israel's security cabinet last year approved the freezing of 507,697,000 shekels ($140,350,300) from the tax money it collects on behalf of the PA over the PA’s payments to terrorists who carried out attacks against Israelis and their families.

The PA then angrily announced that it had returned the tax revenues to Israel after it deducted 41 million shekels from them. PA officials made clear that it would be “all or nothing”, that is they will receive the full tax revenues from Israel or will accept none.

In May, the PA refused to receive the tax money from Israel in protest against Israeli plans to apply sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria.

Since then, the PA has been passing through a crucial financial crisis and has only paid around 50 percent of its employees' monthly salaries.

"The Israeli annexation plan and the US Deal of the Century will not weaken the stable and strict Palestinian position that rejects these plans and deals," Shtayyeh said Monday, according to Xinhua.

PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas announced in May that the PA was no longer bound by the agreements it signed with Israel and the US, including the security coordination with Israel.

That decision too came in response to Israel’s plan to apply sovereignty over Judea and Samaria.