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PA pays limited salaries as Israel withholds taxes

March 4, 2015 12:23 P.M. (Updated: March 6, 2015 6:04 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) – For the third month in a row, the Palestinian Authority will pay its civil servants only 60 percent of their monthly wages, as a result of Israel withholding tax revenues.

In early January, Israeli authorities froze the delivery of $127 million in Palestinian tax revenue, collected on imported goods, as a punitive measure in response to Palestine's decision to join the International Criminal Court.

A spokesman of the Palestinian Ministry of Finance Abd al-Rahman Bayatna confirmed to Ma'an Wednesday that civil servants would receive a portion of their February salary on Thursday. Employees whose monthly wage is 2,000 shekels or less will be fully paid.

Meanwhile, employees with bigger salaries will receive 60 percent of their wages, the minimum of which should be 2,000 shekels.

Palestinian Finance Minister Shukri Bishara said early February that Israel's freeze on Palestinian tax revenue was costing the Palestinian Authority 70 percent of its budget, during a World Bank seminar held to discuss the effect the freeze on the Palestinian budget and treasury.

While under the Oslo agreements, Israel collects Palestinian tax revenues and is supposed to distribute the funds to the PA, Israel has historically confiscated Palestinian taxes in order to put political pressure on the Palestinian government.

The UN has denounced Israel's retaliatory move of withholding Palestinian funds as illegal, while other states including the United States have objected to the move.
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