Palestine/Israel: Tax Income, a Due or a Means of leverage

Palestinian president Mahmud AbbasWhen Palestine was granted the status of non member observer state at the United Nations in November, Israel decided to withhold the tax and customs duties collected for the Palestinians and that are normally transferred to the Palestinian Authority on a monthly basis.
Israel explained then that it was seizing the funds because the Palestinians didn’t pay the Israeli Electricity Corporation a bill of about $200m.
The new fund freezing move, described as “Israeli piracy” or “Israeli sanctions”, dealt a blow to the Palestinian economy and population. As an instance of the deepening financial crisis, some 150,000 civil servants had their pays suspended or received only part of their salaries. Hundreds of employees took to the street to protest the situation.
The tax withholding measure was harshly criticized by the international community. However, it was only after the recent elections that brought to the Israeli Parliament more deputies from centrist parties, and after a meeting Tuesday with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair- the representative of the international Middle East Quartet formed by the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia- that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to release the funds collected last December.
His spokesman said the transfer of December taxes, amounting to $100 Million, was a one-time move and that no decision had been made as to future transfers.
This means that Israel will continue using this strategy as a means of leverage in the future, in violation of the two-decade old interim peace arrangements implying that Israel would transfer to the Palestinian Authority the $100m tax and customs duties it collects every month and that constitute about two-thirds of the Palestinian Authority’s domestic revenue.
Palestinian officials said that the $100 m to be transferred by Israel are not enough to enable the PA cope with the financial crisis, while others criticized the attitude of the Israeli government which is acting, they said, as if it is assisting the PA “It is an insult that adds to injury because the Israelis have harmed the livelihood of over one million Palestinians,” a Palestinian official said.
Many Palestinians were forced to shut down their businesses and trade unions called for strikes that crippled public transport and closed schools.
According to the Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, foreign aid helps Palestine to survive but the amounts received have dropped from $1.8 billion in 2008 to about $600m last year.

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Posted by on Jan 31 2013. Filed under Gulf News, Headlines. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

1 Comment for “Palestine/Israel: Tax Income, a Due or a Means of leverage”

  1. We all want peace, and yet, after more than a century of conflict, the struggle between these two related nations remains more intractable than ever. Why?

    Because each side is entrenched in its own narrative, to the exclusion of the other’s.

    Its faults notwithstanding, one must admit that Israel has taken some steps since the Oslo Accords toward acknowledging the Palestinian suffering. These steps are reflected in school books, in the media, and through other informational outlets. The Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza, for instance, are now referred to as “Palestinians,” and most Israelis would like to see a Palestinian state emerge. The fact that Israeli voters don’t reflect these wishes has to do with fears of surface-to-air missiles two miles from Ben-Gurion International Airport, and scarred memories of blown-up buses and pizzerias.

    The Palestinians, unfortunately, have done little to allay Israeli fears. While Palestinians clamor for the removal of onerous checkpoints and barriers, militant attempts to penetrate these barriers and attack Israeli civilians have not ceased at all since the second Intifada. Similarly, school books and speeches, in Arabic, have grown radical, to the point of portraying Israel’s very existence as a crime. Little has been done to acknowledge the Jewish roots in Palestine.

    The fact is that the Jewish presence in Palestine goes much farther back than most Palestinians, as well as Arabs and Muslims in general, would be willing to admit.

    Before 1948, Palestine was ruled by a series of empires. Before that Palestine was Judaea—a Jewish country. Jews have lived in Palestine continuously for more than 3,300 years. “Palestine” was the name given to the Jewish homeland in the second century by the Romans, in an attempt to break the Jewish adherence to the land. This was a century after the Jewish temple was destroyed and more than a million Jews were massacred.

    The Jews stopped fighting the Romans only after they had no more fighting men standing. As Evangelist William Eugene Blackstone put it in 1891, “The Jews never gave up their title to Palestine… They never abandoned the land. They made no treaty, they did not even surrender. They simply succumbed, after the most desperate conflict, to the overwhelming power of the Romans.”

    The Jews persisted through the centuries under the various empires, after the Arab invasion of 635AD (which they fought alongside the Byzantines), and after the Crusade massacres of the 11th Century, which decimated much of their population. They never stopped returning, and their numbers recovered. In the 19th century, before the Zionist immigration, Jews constituted the largest religious group in Jerusalem.

    Few Palestinians realize that Jewish customs, religion, prayers, poetry, holidays, and virtually every walk of life, documented for thousands of years—all revolve around Judaea/Palestine/Israel. For thousands of years Jews have been praying for Jerusalem in every prayer, after every meal, in every holiday, at every wedding, in every celebration. The whole Jewish religion is about Jerusalem and the Land of Israel. Western expressions such as “The Promised Land,” and “The Holy Land,” did not pop out of void. They have been part of Western knowledge and tradition dating back to the beginning of Christianity and earlier.

    After the Crusades, the Jews—including many who have returned over the centuries—lived peacefully with Arabs, often in the very same villages, as in Pki’in, in the Galilee, until the Zionist immigration of the 19th and 20th Centuries. Article 6 of the PLO Charter specifically calls for the acceptance of all Jews present in Palestine prior to the Zionist immigration. These Jews were simply another ethnic group in a region composed of Sunnis, Shiites, Jews, Druz, Greek Orthodox, Catholics, Circassians, Samarians, and more. Some of these groups, like the Druz, Circassians, Samarians, and an increasing number of Christians, are actually loyal to the Jewish State.

    Incidentally, genetic studies consistently show that Zionist immigrants (a.k.a., Ashkenazi Jews) are closely related to groups that predate the Arab conquest, like the Samarians, who have lived in Palestine for thousands of year.

    Palestinian denial of these facts may lead to events such as the ones brilliantly depicted in Jonathan Bloomfield’s award-winning book, “Palestine,” in which actual history and predicted events are thinly veiled as fiction.

    If, as the current Palestinian narrative goes, the Jews are not a people indigenous to Palestine but rather an invading foreign colonialist body, then they must be fought until they are removed from this land. Anything short of that, by any standard, would be injustice.

    Thus, war and bloodshed will continue until the Palestinians start acknowledging the Jewish narrative, and the fact that Jewish roots in Palestine date back thousands of years, long before the Arab invasion.

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