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Israel takes cut of Palestinian tax revenues
Published Wednesday 12/09/2012 (updated) 16/09/2012 10:18
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Ramallah at night Sept. 3, 2012. The Palestinian Authority is so
behind with its bills that an Israeli electricity supplier has threatened
to cut the power until they pay. (Reuters/Mohamad Torokman)

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities have seized millions of shekels in tax revenue for the Palestinians to compensate for an Israeli company's unpaid electricity bills, officials said Wednesday.

Finance Ministry officials say Israel kept 35 million shekels ($9 million) of the 260 million shekels ($66 million) in customs taxes it collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in September. The Israeli Ministry of Finance confirmed the deduction.

The reduced transfer of 225 million shekels ($57 million) would still be an advance of about half the revenues Israel collects monthly on behalf of the Palestinians. It is a welcome gesture to the embattled Palestinian government as it faces sustained protests against its policies.

But the reduction also underscores Palestinian complaints that their economy is too tightly intertwined with Israel. Protesters on Tuesday burned copies of the Oslo-era Paris Protocol, which gives Israel the final say on Palestinian tax rates and external trade.

Finance Ministry spokesman Rami Mehdawi told Ma'an that Israel had not coordinated with the Palestinian Authority before taking the deduction. Israeli authorities occasionally take a percentage of the revenues to cover power and water, he said.

A day earlier in Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was working with the Palestinians to reform tax agreements and ease the crisis. He said the advance, which he placed at 250 million shekels ($63 million), was "in our common interest."

"We are working on several fronts in order to help the Palestinian Authority cope with its economic problems," Netanyahu said in a meeting with Bulgaria's visiting prime minister.

"Of course, there is a global reality and it is also related to the internal management of every economy, but for our part we are making efforts to help the Palestinian Authority survive this crisis. I hope that they will succeed in doing so; this is our in our common interest."

Blackouts postponed

The transfer came as the main Israeli and Palestinian electricity companies reached an agreement to keep power flowing in the occupied West Bank through the end of September.

The Palestinian Authority's Jerusalem District Electricity Co. has accumulated over 400 million shekels ($100 million) in unpaid bills to the Israeli Electric Corp., which supplies West Bank cities with power.

But on Wednesday the head of the Palestinian company said his Israeli counterparts had agreed to postpone threatened blackouts due to the perilous state of the Palestinian economy.

Hisham al-Umari told Ma'an that the Israeli company had sent word it was giving the Palestinians more time to pay off their debts.

“In light of the tough economic conditions, and the ongoing popular protests in Palestinian cities in the West Bank, the Jerusalem company has recently reduced the pressure on subscribers who have unpaid bills,” al-Umari said. He said the company would keep making daily payments.

In Ramallah, meanwhile, diplomats and foreign finance representatives met with Palestinian officials ahead of a meeting of international donors in New York. Finance Minister Nabil Qassis was expected to attend those talks along with the minister of planning and other economy officials.

The Palestinian Authority says it has received only 40 percent of some $1.3 billion in international assistance it had included in projections for 2012. Since June, the budget shortfall has prevented the government from paying full salaries to tens of thousands of employees.
12/09/2012 22:39

2 ) Colin Wright / USA
12/09/2012 22:49
It doesn't matter. It's Israel playing patti-cake games with what she has stolen in the first place. Why confer legitimacy on it all by arguing about what portion of her ill-gotten loot she should get to keep? As the occupying power, Israel is obliged to maintain vital services -- and she can pay for her own reservation police.

3 ) Filipe / Portugal
13/09/2012 07:59
Colin Wright, As much as you would wish it to be true, Israel is not obliged to absorb the cost of goods and services provided to the PA. You appear to be the only person on record spewing such outrageous nonsense.

4 ) Tony B? / ME
13/09/2012 10:21
It is not before time! Pals need a dose of the real world. This way they will realise what a useless bunch of thieves their leadership is. They will also realise the dead-end road they have been led down with all this 'death to Israel' crap. They have been promising them a 22nd Arab state, or 2nd Pal state for years, and it is even further away from reality now than it ever was. Wake up folks! You are being used as cannon fodder on an agenda that involves none of your aspirations!

5 ) Mr.Justice / Heartland
13/09/2012 10:41
Dear Filipe. I am with Colin Wright.Israel need not take the trouble to collect tax. They can just give freedom to Palestine and let them mind their own business.

6 ) Hilde / Palestine
13/09/2012 10:41
As long as you keep denying there is an occupation in the first place, your statements unfortunately will be nonsensical.

7 ) Tibi / Tubas
13/09/2012 12:42
If a man comes into a shop and breaks something,
most shopkeepers would expect him to pay for it, and
if PA the citizens would stop coming into into Israel, and
Israeli controlled areas (per the Oslo Accords) then Israel would stop
expecting the PA to pay for the cost of resistance, terror, and murder !!!

8 ) gabi / australia
13/09/2012 14:37
Filipe - why don't you have a look at the requirements of international law to see just what Israel, as an occupying power, is obliged to do.

9 ) Rami / Palestine
13/09/2012 15:10
#3, they are fully obliged to absorb the cost as the occupying power. In fact there are many, many MANY international laws on the record that hold Israel fully accountable for all services in the occupied territories. The International donors such as the EU, UN and USAID although they say that they're working for the interests of Palestinians are actually only relieving Israel from its legal and moral responsibilities. If Israel can't afford to maintain the occupation, it should end it.

10 ) Filipe / Portugal
13/09/2012 20:10
#5 Mr Justice, Right !!!!! They would simply wither and die. They have built no infrastructure. They have no means to supply electricity, water or telephone service. They can't pay their monthly civil servant salaries, they are bankrupt. They can't manage their own security. They can't survive on their own, this is evident daily. Abbass is on a non-stop world tour with his begging pot in hand. How , exactly do you think they can survive ?

11 ) Filipe / Portugal
13/09/2012 21:33
#8, 9------ Nice of you both to cite "international law". But I've searched endlessly to find this book of international laws, to no avail. You seem quite convinced that you are right and that Israel is fully responsible to absorb the costs of goods and services provided to the population of the WB, please provide a link to such international law. I would like very much to understand the specifics and if this international laws supersedes the written agreements between Israel and the PLO.

12 ) @ Rami-9 / USA
13/09/2012 21:42
Israel may be "fully accountable for all services in the occupied territories", but Neither Gaza, Nor Areas A/B are "occupied territories",
and Israel does supply all services in Israel and Area C !!!

Israel can stop affording security ("occupation") and survive,
and if extra cash is needed, because of your actions,
then you should expect to keep paying for it !!!

13 ) Carlos / usa
13/09/2012 22:36
israel steals more! What disgusting behavior. What is unbelieveable is a twisted country like israel which is a nuclear proliferator and war monger demands Iran not get nuclear power. Iran has had the decency to abide by the nuclear non proliferation and has been hounded by lies and deception by israel. I am proud not to be israeli!

14 ) @ 11 / WB
13/09/2012 22:41
The international law detailing the responsibilities of an occupying power are outlined in the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a signatory. Happy reading!

15 ) southparkbear / usa
14/09/2012 01:40
what do you mean cuts? it's our the whole

16 ) gabi / australia
14/09/2012 02:51
And Filipe, while you are looking up the law (as I'm sure you will, searching endlessly,) take a moment to recall what damage Israel is doing to the infrastructure of the occupied territories, and what infrastructure they had before the occupation. Without Israel's help. And Rami, how viable is an "unoccupied" area when all around it are restrictions as to movement, travel, building (whether infrastructure or otherwise,) water allocation and almost everything required for viability.

17 ) @ WB-14 / USA
14/09/2012 03:56
The "international law detailing the responsibilities of occupying powers", ONLY APPLIES TO occupied STATES, and everyone knows that - Palestine was never a state before either 1948 or 1967, and still - PALESTINE IS NOT A real STATE, and further - If the Arab invasions had succeeded in 1948, 1967, or 1973, they would have been the "occupying powers" of a real sovereign state, and the Fourth Geneva Convention would have applied to them, and the Arabs would have ignored it !!!!

18 ) Business / Israel
14/09/2012 07:13
What is all this about "international law"? What is that? We found a better law - much better. Everything in the land is produce for the Jews forever. Any Moslem can pay the poll tax in submission and humiliation to us and for that he will be "tolerated" but not equal. Once a land is conquered by the Jews it is in a trust for the Jews forever. Of course, all taxes are owed to the Jews completely. Anyone who objects or causes mischief, forfeits his life. Sound good to everyone? Why not?

19 ) gabi / australia
15/09/2012 03:42
# 17 - then how come the rest of the world sees it differently. I have read the rationale Israel makes about this issue, and no-one agrees with them. So Israel makes its own law, same as it re-writes history. Israel was the aggressor in both 1948 and 1967. Read more history, as it was written AT THE TIME. And try Illan Pappe for the 1948/49 war and Israel's own records for 1967 when they boasted how clever they were in making a "pre-emptive strike".

20 ) Amira / Canada
15/09/2012 18:01
Such a mafiosi racket!! non only they stole the land and its resources, terrorise the Palestinian victims, jail them, torture them, make them refugees and have their armed land-thieve settlers attack them, but ALSO have steal the little money they get back from PAYING TAXES on what left !! Add to this, the israeli company is settled on STOLEN Palestinian land and is run on Palestinian resources!

21 ) Napoleon "History is a pack of / lies agreed upon"
16/09/2012 14:03
#19) Gabi. With two completely different versions of history to choose from it requires an application of objective logic to discern the truth. What do we see on the ground? Well we have Israel that defeated its Arab neighbors in '48 and '67, but still hosts over a million of them. Then we have the Arab controlled WB and Gaza that are enforced Judenrein zones. Logic dictates that if Israel was the aggressive apartheid state your ilk accuses it of being, those facts would be reversed.

22 ) gabi / austdralia
16/09/2012 14:52
#17 - Further, as to the 1973 war, Syria and Egypt did not invade Israel - they "invaded' those lands previously part of Egypt and Syria taken by Israel during the 1967 war, and which the UN had repeatedly called upon Israel's withdrawal, which Israel, repeatedly ignored. Egypt and Syria "invaded" their own lands! Btw Israel nearly lost that war - the government had to resign because of Israel's unpreparedness. That is the only war NOT started by Israel. Israel started all the other wars. OK?

23 ) gabi / australia
17/09/2012 04:14
#21 - I don't understand your "logic." And to get the truth from the "two versions" then read what was written at the time - not as re-witten by hasbara "logic" since. If you don't like Illan Pape then try Benny Morris. And if you want to call the Occupied Territories Judenrein zones (clearly farcical - how many settlers are there?) then perhaps you can give the name (used by Germany 70/80 years ago) -to the ever increasing settlements - now what was it called? Oh yes that's right. Lebensraum.
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