Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas STF/Flash 90

Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday that the PA was rejecting Israel's offer of tax money that had been collected on its behalf. At issues is Israel's insistence on withholding part of the money in order to pay debts the PA owes to Israeli organizations and companies.

Israel began withholding tax money that it collects for the PA on goods that are shipped through Ashdod port after the Palestinian Authority applied to join the International Criminal Court, a move that was consummated last week. The PA says that Israel owes it about $450 million, most of which Israel decided to release last week – less several tens of millions of dollars that the government plans to give to the Israel Electric Corporation and several other companies that the PA has refused to pay.

The PA owes the IEC at least $450 million; it has not paid its electric bill for at least six years. Several months ago, the IEC cut some power to PA cities, but stopped that policy due to international protests.

Speaking at a meeting of the Central Council of the Fatah terror group, Abbas said that the PA was not taking the money under these circumstances. “Either we get all the money or we go to arbitration or to the ICC,” he said.

“Israel intends to make these deductions without Palestinian supervision, even though it is Palestinian money,” Abbas said last week. “This is unacceptable, and we will refuse to accept the money under these circumstances.” The PA will fight to get its money, if necessary taking the case to the ICC, which the PA became a member of this week, Abbas added.