Palestinian president rejects Israeli conditions for returning tax revenues
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is understood to have asked the Palestinian ministry of finance not to accept Palestinian tax funds that Israel is reportedly ready now to release.
Abbas said that Palestinians would not accept the pre-conditions laid down by Israel, which has been withholding tax revenues collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority - and worth $175 million a month - for the past four months.
"We will not accept Israel's dictates regarding our funds and we want to resolve the issue through the Oslo Accords," Abbas told a meeting of Fatah leaders. "If not, we will resort to the International Criminal Court to get our tax money."
On 1 April, Palestine officially joined the ICC. Three months ago, the ICC started an initial probe into two alleged crimes the Palestinians referred to the court - the 51-day Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip in 2014 and the continuing expansion of settlements on occupied land, deemed illegal under international law.
|They deduct the amounts they want... They write the numbers they want and we just have to accept that.
- Mahmoud Abbas
Abbas said Israel was willing to discuss the release of the funds - but only if Tel Aviv first helps itself to the cash pot.
"They deduct the amounts they want and say we have electricity and sewage debts. They write the numbers they want and we just have to accept that," said Abbas.
"We rejected their decision and told them they cannot impose this on us. We want a solution in light of the Oslo Accords."
According to the Palestinian Authority, Israel wants to deduct $250 million from the $375 million of Palestinian tax revenues it has withheld from December to February - ie: two-third of the revenues collected for December, January and February.
The tax revenues usually pay the wages of 60 percent of Palestinian civil servants' salaries - wages for teachers, doctors and police officers. It was withheld as punishment for the Palestinians' application to join the International Criminal Court, analysts tend to concur.
This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.