By withholding the PA’s tax revenues, the Israeli government is effectively stealing Palestinian money. So why won’t the international community call it that?
At the end of last year the Israeli government announced that it would stop transferring Palestinian tax revenue to the Palestinian Authority. The move was explained, explicitly, as a punitive measure for the Palestinian ascension to the International Criminal Court. Conveniently, it also happened to take place at the start of Israel’s fast-paced election season.
The funds in question are tariffs and customs fees that Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinians, which the Palestinian Authority cannot collect for itself, since Israel won’t allow it to control any sea or air port. The goods that are being taxed merely pass through Israel. According to the Paris Protocols, the economic section of the Oslo Accords, the tax money is Palestinian; Israel is just a middle man.
So when Israel refuses to transfer the Palestinian tax revenue, it is stealing. Except nobody calls it that, for two reasons. The first reason is that Israel is not a rogue state in the eyes of most of the world, and states don’t really steal — they have disputes, or they occupy, or nationalize or appropriate.
The second reason is that everyone involved — the Israelis, the Palestinians and the international community — knows that Israel will eventually give the money back. Every year or two, the Israeli government decides to withhold the tax funds, usually in response to some policy decision that doesn’t strike its fancy. It waits a few months until the international pressure grows — and the Palestinian Authority inches toward collapse — before giving it back.
So what does withholding the tax funds accomplish? Firstly, it means that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians lose part of their income. The first thing that the Palestinian Authority slashes when it starts to run out of money is salaries — the salaries of 180,000 civil servants, each of whom supports a family.
Withholding tax funds, or holding up the monthly income of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian families, is Israel’s way sending the Palestinian Authority to bed without dinner. The Israeli government is saying: your behavior is not acceptable, and although we are not going to do anything too dramatic, we want you to hurt...Read More