Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday threatened to file a complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC) if Israel did not immediately transfer hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid tax funds to the Palestinian Authority.
Last week, Israel said it would release the funds, but the payment remained held up over a dispute regarding the size of the PA’s unpaid electric bill.
Abbas reportedly refuses to have Israel deduct electricity costs and said that if the issue remains unresolved, he would turn to The Hague.
A Palestinian source told Israel Radio on Tuesday that the Israeli demand for electricity costs was far too high for the PA. Multiple sources said the two sides are still NIS 400 million ($100 million) apart on their demands over the amount to be transferred.
PA and Israeli officials met Monday to discuss the details of the transfer, but were unable to come to an agreement.
The PA is scheduled to pay the salaries of 170,000 government employees next week.
On Friday, Israel said it would release the hundreds of millions of dollars in tax funds it has withheld from the PA as a punitive measure over its move to join the ICC.
Abbas said Saturday he doubted Israel’s willingness to hand over the funds.
“They’ve announced they will release the money, but so far they have unlocked nothing,” Abbas told an Arab League summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
“Maybe they will impose a thousand and one conditions before doing so and guaranteeing not to freeze the funds again.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said revenues accumulated over three months, frozen since January, would be transferred after normal deductions for services.
“They are collecting this money in our name, and charging a 3-percent service fee,” Abbas said Saturday.
“They collect $100 million and take $3 million. If they decide to deprive us of the funds by blocking them, it still makes no difference to them,” he added.
Netanyahu’s office did not say whether Israel would resume the normal monthly payment of around $127 million in customs duties levied on goods destined for Palestinian markets that transit through Israeli ports.
Israel has not quantified the amount to be transferred, but did say it would deduct debts due for services such as electricity, water and medical care.
The Palestinians officially joined the ICC on April 1. They have said they intend to pursue war crimes allegedly committed by Israel during last summer’s war in Gaza, as well as charges over Israel’s settlement-building policy.
AFP and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.
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