Abbas threatens to file ICC complaint over unpaid PA taxes
search

Abbas threatens to file ICC complaint over unpaid PA taxes

Release of funds, announced by PMO last week, held up over electricity bill dispute

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Central Council of the PLO in the West Bank city of Ramallah, March 4, 2015. (photo credit: STR/Flash90)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Central Council of the PLO in the West Bank city of Ramallah, March 4, 2015. (photo credit: STR/Flash90)

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. 

Join us!
A message from the Editor of Times of Israel
David Horovitz

The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.

We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.

Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.

Become a member of The Times of Israel Community
read more:
comments