The Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank is weighing all possible measures to counter Israeli sanctions and restrictions, including initiating austerity measures and advancing tax collection systems, to be able to cover some of the costs needed to prevent its collapse.The decision was made after Israel imposed sanctions on the P.A, and stopped the transfer of tax money it collects on border terminals leading to the occupied West Bank.
The Israeli sanctions came after the P.A. filed applications to join 15 international conventions and treaties, when Israel refused to release veteran Palestinian political prisoners held since the first Oslo Agreement of 1993. The release was supposed to be implemented on March 29.
Spokesperson of the Palestinian Economy Ministry, Azmy Abdul-Rahman, told the Maan News Agency that, should Israel implement the sanctions, the P.A would have to cut costs in all ministries, and increase tax collection.
He added that the P.A. usually gets around $120 Million a month, and that this amount covers 80% of monthly costs, including paying salaries, pensions and providing basic services.
“Should Israel stop the transfer, the Palestinian economy would be largely impacted”, he said.
Abdul-Rahman warned of the direct impacts of Israeli sanctions, especially since Israel has sole control on all border terminals leading to the occupied West Bank.
He further stated that, according to signed agreements, mainly the Paris Protocol, Israel collects customs and taxes on West Bank border terminals, and transfers them to the Palestinian Authority after deducting a 3% interest.
“Each time Israel withholds the money it violates the Paris Protocol”, he added. “Israel is blackmailing the P.A.”
Israel repeatedly withheld the money in an attempt to pressure the P.A. and force it to refrain from signing international agreements and treaties, and to oblige it continue direct peace talks while Tel Aviv continues its violations, including the ongoing construction and expansion of its illegitimate settlements.
Israel recently decided to sanction the P.A. by imposing further restrictions which could cause the already weak Palestinian economy to collapse. Some of the measures include halting the transfer of tax money, and restricting the movement and trade of Palestinian businesspersons and companies.
The recent sanctions were enforced after the rival Fateh and Hamas movements, with various Palestinian factions, signed a reconciliation and unity agreement that could lead to forming an interim unity government until general and presidential elections are held.
The Israeli Cabinet decided that Tel Aviv will not negotiate with any Palestinian government that includes Hamas.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that President Mahmoud Abbas violated standing agreements when he decided to join United Nations institutions and international treaties, and when he held a coalition with the Hamas movement.
The P.A. in the West Bank said it is committed to the political process until signing a comprehensive peace deal with Tel Aviv, but cannot continue these talks while Israel is ongoing with its violations, including ongoing invasions, assassinations and arrests, and that Israel must fully stop its illegitimate settlement construction and expansion activities.