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Israel seizes PA tax revenues, official says

Sept. 1, 2014 12:12 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 3, 2014 10:29 P.M.)
NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Israel has seized some 200 million shekels ($55 million) from monthly tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, a senior Palestinian official told Ma'an on Monday.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Israel took a cut of 90 million shekels ($25 million) to cover the unpaid debts of a Palestinian electricity company.

A further 90 million shekels ($25 million) was taken to cover other PA debts, while around 30 million shekels was seized to cover the cost of Palestinian patients referred to Israeli hospitals by the PA.

The seizure will further jeopardize the PA's ability to pay civil servant salaries in Gaza, having faced months of crisis over unpaid employees.

The 380 million shekels ($106 million) transferred by Israel will only cover 40 percent of the monthly wages for PA civil servants in the West Bank, the official said.

The move by Israel is a deliberate attempt to create obstacles for the Palestinian unity government, the official added.

The government faced its first crisis in June when the PA's Gaza-based staff received their wages but their Hamas counterparts went empty-handed.

On Sunday, senior Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzouq said an agreement was reached between Hamas and PA officials to pay salaries on Wednesday, although that looks to be unlikely given Israel's seizure of PA funds.

Each month, PA salaries cost around $200 million, $120 million of which is covered by taxes collected by Israel on behalf of the occupied Palestinian territory.

The Paris Protocol was signed in 1994 as an annex to the Oslo Accords that established the interim Palestinian government.

The Protocol gave Israel sole control over Palestine's external trade, and collection of customs duties, allowing the state to serially hold back this revenue as punishment for Palestinian political measures, such as the bid for UN membership.
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