The French government slammed Israel for withholding Palestinian tax and customs money it collects on border terminals on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (P.A.), and stated that, by law, the money must be transferred regularly to the P.A.The official Palestine News and Info Agency, WAFA, reported that French Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Bernard Valero, stated that his government condemns the continued withholding of Palestinian tax revenue, adding that this money is rightfully for the Palestinians, and by withholding them, Israel is violating its own obligations under the 1994 Paris protocol.
Valero said that the Israeli violation is suffocating the Palestinian Authority and making it unable to perform its duties, adding that the Palestinian tax revenue is around $100 Million a month.
The French official further stated that several countries, and United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, are calling on Israel to void its decision as it is considered a punishment to the Palestinians for legal initiatives seeking recognition at the United Nations.
Valero also stated that withholding the money is jeopardizing all achievements and efforts made in the last few years to build strong Palestinian institutions and infrastructure, in addition to security, in preparation for the future Palestinian state.
“We are asking Israel to respect its commitments, France is urging Israel to transfer the funds to the P.A. as soon as possible”, the French spokesperson said, “France wants to ensure that these payments are made regularly”.
Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported that Palestinian Prime Minister, Dr. Salaam Fayyad, stated Thursday that the P.A will very soon be completely incapacitated due to Israel refusal to transfer Palestinian tax revenue.
Fayyad said that the Israeli violations are causing hardships to the P.A in paying salaries and pensions, and in maintaining the infrastructure in the Palestinian territories.
“The money we are referring to is ours, our right”, The Prime Minister said, “This has nothing to do with the transfer of money from donor countries and international support to the P.A”.
Fayyad made his statements during a conference with Norwegian Foreign Minister, Jonas Gahr Stoere, who also stated that Israel must freeze the Palestinian tax revenue.
Norway is the current head of a committee of donors to the Palestinian Authority. The committee includes The European Union, the United States and Israel.
Meanwhile, Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, stated that Israel will not transfer any Palestinian tax revenue to a Fatah-Hamas Unity Government, Haaretz reported.
His statements came during a meeting with the Foreign Minister of Montenegro; Lieberman stated that ‘Israel will not recognize the unity government (that has not been formed yet), will not negotiate with it, and will not transfer it even one dime’ if this government doesn’t accept the principles outlined by the Quartet Committee.