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Withholding Palestinian tax revenues is a criminal act
Published Friday 21/12/2012 (updated) 23/12/2012 10:34
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This is not the first time the Israeli occupation authority withholds Palestinian tax revenues; in the last few years, the Israeli government has used this money as a Damocles sword hanging over the head of the Palestinians. It was used to blackmail them and as a tool to pressure them when needed.

Unfortunately, the Israeli government practices this policy in a way closer to a gang mentality rather than a civilized, modern or democratic country which respects international law and treaties.

Palestinians know and admit they are the weak party in the conflict equation; the world community knows this fact but they are doing and saying nothing in order to make Israel retract its policy.

Since the Palestinians announced their intention to go to the United Nations to demand upgrading the status of Palestine to observer non- member status, the Israeli occupation leaders haven’t stopped their threats to not transfer the tax revenue, in an attempt to make Palestinians reconsider their plans.

Israel said it wouldn’t transfer the Palestinian money until March at the earliest, in a protest measure against the successful Palestinian bid to upgrade its status.

The Israeli step is coming amid Arab and international silence, inability and compliance, despite the fact that this step would have disastrous effects on more than a million Palestinians.

Anger and frustration is overwhelming the Palestinians who have not received their salaries regularly like other people in the world.

In 10 days, the second month -- December -- will end, and the salary of November remains in the hands of the Israelis. This is no more or less than official theft and robbery, Palestinians believe.

It is not true that Israel is holding the tax revenue for electricity debts, especially when it was announced several months ago by many Israeli leaders that Palestinians must pay a price for going to the UN. It seems that the time has come, and the Palestinians must pay for the support they had at the UN.

The Israeli intention to punish the Palestinians was no secret, and knowing the fact that the world community would not react, the Israeli government didn’t hesitate to realize its threats; it was clear that this policy has nothing to do with electricity debts.

Withholding the tax money is another collective punishment that Israel is practicing against the Palestinian people. The same policy was practiced against the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip; more than 1.5 million Palestinians facing an unjust and illegal siege over many years.

The financial problem which the Palestinians face is directly linked to the Oslo accords signed in 1993. The direct blame falls on the shoulders of those who lift the financial responsibility and obligation from the Israeli shoulders as an occupying power.

Since 1967 until 1994 when the Palestinian Authority was founded, there was no problem regarding the salaries of the Palestinian employees. At that time Israel was in charge as an occupying power, and Israel didn’t do it as a favor, but because it is obliged by international law to do it.

The Oslo accords lift this responsibility from the Israeli shoulders and put it on the PA and world donors, with whom they became direct partners in one way or another in this occupation, and the PA is paying what Israel is supposed to pay from its own treasury.

When describing the Israeli occupation as the cheapest occupation on earth in modern history, or an occupation without a price, it is not only because of the lack of resistance or because there are no losses among the occupation troops, but also because of the financial issues, which the Israelis are supposed to carry, but they don’t.

These territories are run by Palestinian employees, who are supposed to have their salaries from the occupation authorities, not from the world donors, or from the Arab League countries.

Asking the Arab countries to form a "safety net" by paying $100 million a month is another mistaken message to Israel, a message that says "Israel can do what ever it wants and the Arabs are ready to pay what Israel holds or even steals".

The Arab countries which the PA is calling on to help the Palestinians are the same countries involved in the "revolutions" of the "Arab spring", some of which have paid billions of dollars to destroy countries like Libya, Syria, and before that Iraq.

By Israel not paying the Palestinian money it becomes a double-edged sword; no one can guarantee the consequences if this policy continues, no one can tell the reaction of the Palestinians when they feel they cant buy food or medicine or milk for their children, in which case, somebody must be held accountable.

To have food, medicine and shelter are basic human rights; by not paying the Palestinians their money, the Israeli authorities are violating these rights. It is an apartheid system in Israel which is trying to take away the rights of the people of Palestine, linked to the most basic right, which is the right to life. This is what the international charter and law states.

Withholding almost $100 million a month will worsen the lives of the Palestinians, prevent them from having their basic needs and putting more than a million Palestinians beneath the poverty line.

The mentality of theft and robbery is not the correct solution or the remedy. It will backfire on Israel and the PA which is, in fact, a need for Israel and the region.

Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish wrote:

do not hate people nor do I encroach
But if I become hungry
The usurper's flesh will be my food
Beware...Beware...
Of my hunger and my anger!
Beware…
Beware of my hunger and anger


The author is a Palestinian journalist and writer based in Bethlehem.
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1 ) Jewel / Netherlands
22/12/2012 00:30
How I agree the withholding is a criminal act. But the most important friend of Israel the USA, will never look to it that way. As long as Israel is yelling it has to "defend" itselves against the Arabs...... will the USA behave like the big brother that defends his little one. Although that little one is gone out of hand completely! In the theatre of world politics is Palestine slaughtered and offered like the sheep that took the place of Ismael when Ibrahim showed his obedience....

2 ) Azzi from / Gazzi
22/12/2012 00:38
When the PA took their unilateral action of seeking from UNGA to upgrade their status, what were they thinking? It took all other agreements OFF THE BOARD. If nonstate tribal arabs think they don't have to consider their next-door neighbor, why should the next-door neighbor consider them? Every action has a built-in reaction. You are starting to feel it -- live with it. You made your bed, now lie in it. Foolish, short-term visionaries, each and every nonstate tribal arab!

3 ) Robert Haymond / Israel-gush Etzion
22/12/2012 21:04
"If you can't do the time, don't do the crime." In this case, I am referring to the PA's refusal, or inability, to pay its elecricity and water bills to the Israeli authority. In Israel, if you don't pay, you get cut off. Enough mendacity and prevaricating, Mr. Shahin. It's simple, Pay Your Bills! Enough social welfare for Westbank Arabs, especially after sixty-four years! Enough corruption by its leaders, Arafat and now Abbas & Sons!

4 ) Colin Wright / USA
22/12/2012 22:13
'Withholding Palestinian tax revenues is a criminal act' Yeah -- but this is Israel. She's ALLOWED to commit criminal acts -- in case you haven't noticed.

5 ) It would seem the PA has got / us all into a fine STATE
23/12/2012 21:37
Israel collecting taxes for the PA was a part of the Oslo accords, remember! They were the accords that the PA decided to abandon in favor of votes from their UN mates. Its rather silly to expect Israel to keep to Oslo while you don't. Best you forget the taxes and go ask your UN mates for a hand-out. Oh, I forgot. They promised a hundred million a month. Well, whats the problem?

6 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
24/12/2012 03:47
You are basically very correct and I have (and will) continue to beseech our government to transfer all Palestinian tax revenues the PA is entitled to. As I've posted elsewhere, it is a form of theft and "punishment" for us to withhold PA money. Our government most assuredly would never be doing this had the PA refrained from acquiring its U.N. upgrade despite the hundreds of millions of shekels the Palestinians owe the Israel Electric Corp. by the (Palestinian) Jerusalem District (cont.)

7 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
24/12/2012 04:08
Electricity Co. or (indirectly) by the PA. (The only obvious benefit is the reduction in debt they owe but it's being done in the wrong manner, for the wrong reasons and only brings more hardships to the "customers" in the meantime.) Rashid, you know as well as I and other honest Israelites the only solution for all this perpetual conflict the world is getting so damn tired and sick and sick and tired of between our 2 peoples is for your people to emigrate to Jordan/Palestine, your (cont.)

8 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
24/12/2012 04:33
nation, where All_h has, with all the other Arab Peoples and their lands, fulfilled His promise to Ishmael by making him into a great nation(s) (as our sacred Torah says some 1900 years before your sacred Qur'an). (Gen. 17:20, 21:18). As surely as we are Israelites through Isaac, you are our brethren through Ishmael. We have our All_h-given land; you have yours. Despite our peoples' "co-operation" in trying to make "peace" over the last damn 20 years, you know how futile it forever will be.

9 ) Andy / UK
24/12/2012 13:01
This article is absolutely correct and Barack Obama is allowing Israel to collectively punish the Palestinians yet again. The 'settlement' announcements and this tax issue have barely raised a murmur from the international community. Outrage over the illegal settlements have quickly died down and the fact that all these Palestinian workers will not be paid doesn't appear newsworthy in the MSM. Arab countries should stop financing terrorists in Syria and pay these unfortunate people their wages.

10 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
24/12/2012 18:36
You are basically very correct and I have (and will) continue to beseech our government to transfer all Palestinian tax revenues the PA is entitled to. As I've posted elsewhere, it is a form of theft and "punishment" for us to withhold PA money. Our government most assuredly would never be doing this had the PA refrained from acquiring its U.N. upgrade despite the hundreds of millions of shekels the Palestinians owe the Israel Electric Corp. by the (Palestinian) Jerusalem District (cont.)

11 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
24/12/2012 18:37
Electricity Co. or (indirectly) by the PA. (The only obvious benefit is the reduction in debt they owe but it's being done in the wrong manner, for the wrong reasons and only brings more hardships to the "customers" in the meantime.) Rashid, you know as well as I and other honest Israelites the only solution for all this perpetual conflict the world is getting so damn tired and sick and sick and tired of between our 2 peoples is for your people to emigrate to Jordan/Palestine, your (cont.)

12 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
24/12/2012 18:38
nation, where All_h has, with all the other Arab Peoples and their lands, fulfilled His promise to Ishmael by making him into a great nation(s) (as our sacred Torah says some 1900 years before your sacred Qur'an). (Gen. 17:20, 21:18). As surely as we are Israelites through Isaac, you are our brethren through Ishmael. We have our All_h-given land; you have yours. Despite our peoples' "co-operation" in trying to make "peace" over the last damn 20 years, you know how futile it forever will be.

13 ) Outlier / USA
30/12/2012 23:49
6,7,8,10,11,12 - Yehuda, edit or be ignored.

14 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
01/01/2013 18:43
@ 13), It's NEVER my intention to double-post or take up unnecessary space !!! If I send comments, I check back a day or two later and if they're unposted, I re-send them 1 more time to be sure they were gotten. If I still don't see them then I accept MNA's decision NOT to post them and leave it at that. I'm NOT trying to hog these comments boards !!! Apparently MNA's comment editor forgot to check if he/she had already posted my comments. They do an EXCELLENT job for everyone !!!

15 ) Plain & / Simple
03/01/2013 18:11
The Oslo Accords gave Israel the right to collect these taxes, and
withholding Palestinian tax revenues is no more of an Accord's violation,
than the PA's UNGA Bid for Palestine's non-member observer up-grade.

16 ) Filipe / Portugal
06/01/2013 02:19
The decision taken to use the tax collection funds to satisfy outstanding debts owed to the electric company by the PA is no more "theft" than the PA's refusal to pay it's obligation in the first place.Is this not theft? Why is it acceptable for the PA to not pay the bill? Why is it not acceptable for Israel to take collective action? There is not a court in the world that would rule that taking actions to satisfy the debt is illegal.

17 ) Barbara / USA
14/01/2013 19:21
My government should step in and tell the Israelis that for every dollar of money they withhold from the Palestinian Authority the US will withhold ten dollars from the money we send to Israel. It's a ashame my government doesn't have the moral courage needed to do this. Any international agreement that allows this to occur needs to be cancelled.
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