OSLO - The Palestinian Authority is "fast approaching the point of being completely incapacitated" by Israel's refusal to hand over tax revenues
belonging to the authority, PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Thursday.
Israel's freeze on the taxes and fees it collects for the Palestinian Authority at borders has deprived the government of two-thirds of its normal revenue since Nov. 1, making it hard to pay salaries and fix infrastructure, Fayyad said.RELATED:World pushes Israel to release funds to PAPA denies deal with Israel over UN membership
"This is our money," he said. "It has nothing to do with donor assistance or anything like that."
He spoke at a press conference alongside Norwegian Foreign Minister
Jonas Gahr Stoere, who demanded an end to the policy that Israel imposed
a day after the UN cultural agency UNESCO granted full membership to
"It amounts to waterboarding an economy," Stoere said, "because you
almost kill it while allowing a small amount of air to come in."
Israel has called the withholding of funds "temporary" and complained
the Palestinians were unwilling to open direct peace talks, while
Palestinian leaders have said they would talk only if Israel halts
settlement activity in areas it occupies.
Fayyad said the frozen funds amount to some $100 million per month, or
two-thirds of the Palestinian Authority's revenue stream excluding
He spoke shortly after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met in Cairo
with Khaled Mashaal, exiled leader of Hamas movement.
Fayyad reiterated that he was willing to step down if it would help heal
divisions between the rival factions and pave the way for presidential
and parliamentary elections. Hamas has rejected him as head of a joint
Norway chairs a committee of aid donors to the Palestinian Authority,
including the United States, Israel and the European Union.
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