Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, has said that his government will not transfer any Palestinian tax revenue to a Fateh-Hamas Unity Government, as reported by Haaretz.During a meeting with the Foreign Minister of Montenegro, Lieberman stated that ‘Israel will not recognize it, will not negotiate with it, and will not transfer it even one dime,’ if the Unity government doesn’t accept the principles outlined by the Middle East Peace Quartet. The principles in question state that any Palestinian government respect any past peace agreements and recognise Israel’s right to exist, reports Haaretz.
Liberman’s comments appear to pre-empt the upcoming meeting between Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas and Khalid Mashal, the head of the Hamas political bureau in Cairo. The purpose of the meeting is to implement the Unity agreement that was signed in May this year.
In recent days Israel has felt pressure from both the United States and the United Nations to release the funds, including being urged by Tony Blair, the Quartet’s envoy to the Middle East. He called on Israel to transfer the money without any further delay saying that withholding the funds benefits “only those who oppose peace.”
Following the Oslo Accords and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, some taxes in the Palestinian Territories are paid directly to the P.A., where as some, such as V.A.T. on Israeli products are paid to the State of Israel before these funds are released, in part, to the P.A..
Prior to this arrangement, all tax revenue was paid to Israel. The amendment to this arrangement was intended to aid state building efforts set forth in the Oslo Accords, but also removed the possibility of a total tax resistance such as that initiated during the First Intifada in the town of Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem.