According to a recently-released report, the Israeli government has withheld payment of up to two hundred million dollars meant for the Palestinian Civil Administration over the last sixteen years, instead illegally channeling the money into Israeli state coffers.Under the Oslo Agreement of 1993, the Israeli government agreed to levy certain fees to the Palestinian Civil Authority to provide for the needs of Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. But that money was never transferred, and according to the Israeli government’s new report, has been illegally channeled into the coffers of the Israeli government in violation of international law.
The report stated, ‘Following staff work by an interministerial team composed of representatives of the Finance Ministry, Justice Ministry and Civil Administration, it has been agreed that the … said fees will be entered into the Civil Administration’s budget. The technical aspects of the affair will be sorted out in the coming weeks.’
The Israeli deputy attorney general has called for an official state inquiry into the redirection of funds, and an investigation into whether the violation of international law constitutes a need to retroactively compensate the Palestinian Authority for the funds that Israel has illegally seized.
But the report did not address the question of Israeli import and export taxes on Palestinian goods, which are collected by the Israeli government and supposed to be then sent to the Palestinian Authority – but since 2006, Israel has withheld these funds and refused to pass them on to the Palestinian Authority as they are legally required to do.
The Israeli Finance Ministry voiced opposition to the idea of retroactive compensation due to the violation, and issued a statement saying ‘It should be noted the question of whether the funds are registered as state income or Civil Administration income is a technical question, because at the end of the day the State of Israel invests in the area amounts considerably larger than the fees it collects.”
The Finance Ministry may have been referencing the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian land, which is estimated to cost Israel about $12 billion a year, although the military occupation does not provide any benefit to the Palestinians – on the contrary, the Palestinian people face daily obstacles and humiliations due to the occupation, with no apparent benefit.