According to a new report, a top Palestinian Authority official accused Israel on Sunday of trying to topple the PA by freezing millions of dollars in tax funds payable to the Palestinians.
Chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat used the well-known Palestinian negotiation tactic of demanding world pressure on Israel to release the funds, which were frozen after the Palestinian bid to take Israel to the ICC for alleged war crimes.
As Erekat said to reporters, “Israel is aiming to collapse the Palestinian Authority with all its institutions, so the international community should do much more than stating what the results of such move might be. This money is not Israeli money nor donors’ money, this is an unprecedented act of piracy.”
Traditionally, despite being at war with the Palestinians who call for the annihilation of the Jewish State, Israel transfers around $127 million to the PA in customs duties levied on goods destined for Palestinian markets that transit through Israeli ports.
Those revenues collectively make up around two-thirds of the Authority’s annual budget, excluding the hundreds of millions of dollars of foreign aid it receives.
Nevertheless, on January 2, the Netanyahu government announced that Israel was suspending the transfer of the funds to the PA due to their direct breach of previously signed agreements with Israel.
Erekat accused Israel of all types of crimes related to the transfer of the outstanding funds, saying, “Israel has been doing its best to lead to the PA collapse for years, Netanyahu wants a PA without any authority and now he withholds the funds in order to make it collapse.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking in London on Saturday, reiterated Washington’s concerns over the “continued viability” of the Palestinian Authority,
“If the Palestinian Authority ceases… security cooperation (with Israel) or even decides to disband as a result of their economic predicament, and that could happen in the near future if they don’t receive additional revenues,” he said.
For the time being, Israel has little incentive to hurry up on transferring funds to the PA, an alleged negotiating partner who has proved to be more of an enemy than a friend.