Palestinian president Abbas reject tax transfers after Israel cuts 'martyr stipends'

Palestinian president Abbas reject tax transfers after Israel cuts 'martyr stipends'
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday hit back at an Israeli decision to slash the tax revenues collected on the PA's behalf.
2 min read
20 February, 2019
Israel has previously cut tax payments to the PA over killings of Israelis [Getty]

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has rejected tax revenues Israel collects on its behalf, following an Israeli decision to cut the revenues over Ramallah's funding for the families of Palestinians killed or jailed by Israel.

Israel announced on Sunday it would cut 5 percent of the tax revenues it sends to the PA due to the family support payments, reported Reuters.

"We reject the tax, we don't want it," Abbas told visiting a US congressman in response.

"Frankly, if we are left with only 20 or 30 million shekels [$6-8 million], which is the sum paid to families of martyrs, then we will pay them to the families of martyrs," he said in remarks broadcast on Palestinian radio.

Under the 1993 Oslo accords, Israel collects taxes in the West Bank and Gaza and makes monthly payments to the PA, which says it receives about $222 million per month from Israel in tax revenues.

The Israeli Finance Ministry said on Wednesday it collect 700 million shekels ($193 million) in Palestinian taxes per month, 600 million shekels ($166 million) of which are sent to the PA following deductions for electricity, water, sewage and medical treatment services for which Israel charges Palestinians.

Israel has withheld taxes from the PA on various occasions in the past. It deducted tax payments in September 2018 in response to the killing of Israeli-American settler Ari Fuld by a Palestinian teenager in the West Bank.

Israel and the US claim the stipends sent to the families of Palestinians killed or imprisoned by Israel aid "terrorists" and encourage further violence in the occupied territories.

Palestinians see their slain or jailed compatriots as heroes in the struggle against the ongoing Israeli occcupation.

295 Palestinians were killed and over 29,000 were injured by Israeli forces in 2018, according to UN figures. Almost 6,000 Palestinians are currently held in Israeli jails, according to Israeli NGO B’tselem.

The United States passed in 2018 legislation to sharply decrease aid to Palestinians if the stipends continued to be paid.

The PA declined in January around $60 million in annual funding from the US for their security forces, fearing exposure to lawsuits under new US anti-terror laws.