Arab foreign ministers attending an emergency meeting in the Egyptian capital Cairo (Image: AA)
Arab foreign ministers attending an emergency meeting in the Egyptian capital Cairo (Image: AA)

Cairo, 21 Rabi’ul Awwal 1436/12 January 2015 (MINA) – The Assistant to the Secretary General on Palestine Affairs at the Arab League, Ambassador Mohammed Sbeih said that Israel’s Tax Freeze of Palestinian money is considered a theft and a collective punishment of Palestinian people.

Sbeih added that this unjust situation needs an international stand because it violates international law, Palestine News Network (PNN) quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.

A few days after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced that Palestine would join the International Criminal Court, his Israeli Counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu announced that his country would stop transferring customs revenue to the Palestinian Authority as a punishment to the Palestinian move.

It turned out that the Palestinian Authority had a plan-B to avoid a financial crisis as they immediately turned to the Arab League which agreed to provide emergency funds to cover the VAT-taxes frozen by Israel. Through this Arab League safety net the Palestinians will be able to avoid the expected temporary bankruptcy and help them to move forward with pressing for war crimes at the ICC.

In fact, financial support from the Arab League was a key component, along with joining the ICC, of long-term strategy to pressure Israel into negotiations.

The Arab League is scheduled to convene for an emergency session on January 15 in participation of the Palestinain president Mahmoud Abbas.

The Arab League’s Deputy Secretary-General, Ahmed Bin Helli said in a statement on Wednesday that the meeting was convened due to the latest developments between Israel and Palestine and after consultations between Mahmoud Abbas, Arab League Secretary General Nabil Al-Araby and the Deputy Prime Minister of Kuwait, Sabah al-Khaled al-Hamad al-Sabah.

Ambassador Sbeih said that the Arab League calls on the United States to make a neutral move for once instead of standing by the Israel and its wrongful ways represented by the illegal constructions of settlements. Sbeih added that the U.S.’s change of ways can give the Israeli-Palestinian peace a serious chance to finally work out.

On a different note, the Israeli government on Friday announced that it would freeze $128 million in Palestinian tax revenues in response to Palestine’s accession to over 20 international treaties and organizations, including the Rome Statute and the ICC. The Cabinet of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the step as unilateral and threatened that it would take measures to protect Israeli soldiers and officers from the ICC.

the Palestinian Authority is pressed with the loss of VAT tax revenues. VAT taxes are earned by the Palestinian Authority and collected by Israel. Timely transfers of the VAT-taxes are essential to keeping economic and social stability in the West Bank.

They constitute 70-percent of the Palestinian Authority’s revenue and finance the bulk of salaries and public services in the West Bank such as hospitals and schools. The funds for December 2014 were scheduled to arrive during the first week of January. Palestinian leaders say ‘Israel’ has sent no direct communication to their government regarding the suspension of VAT taxes.

Palestinian Liberation Organization’s Negotiations Affairs Department spokesperson Ashraf Khatib said that: “There is an agreement with the Arab countries that they will have a safety net, funds that will be available to us. Funds of around $100 million a month that will help with the Israelis and any other countries that could threaten to withhold funds.”

Prior to the December 2014 commitment from the Arab League, Khatib also said Arab leaders pledged support to the Palestinian Authority during the Arab Summit in Kuwait in March of that same year.(T/R05/R03)


Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)