Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gestures as he speaks in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned on Friday that he would be “forced to take harsh steps” if Israel does not release the tax revenues belonging to the Palestinians.
Abbas was speaking in Luxembourg after meeting with Minister for Foreign Affairs Jean Asselborn.
Referring to the Israeli government’s decision to withhold the tax funds in response to the Palestinian move to file “war crime” charges against it with the International Criminal Court, Abbas said: “This is a dangerous issue. Israel is withholding our money and this means that the ‘State of Palestine’ will face a crisis.”
Abbas appealed to the international community to exert pressure on Israel to release the funds. Otherwise, he said, “I will be forced to take harsh steps.”
Abbas did not say what kind of steps he would take. In the past, he has threatened to resign, dissolve the PA, or suspend security coordination with Israel.
Abbas also warned that continued settlement construction would prevent the resumption of peace talks with Israel.
“As Palestinians, we believe that the only way to achieve peace is through negotiations,” he said. “When we ask any country to recognize our state or support us at the UN Security Council, we’re demanding that they become anti-Israel. We just want them to support justice.”
Abbas said the Palestinians are opposed to terrorism and favor political solutions. The Palestinians are also opposed to turning the conflict with Israel into a religious one, he said.
At the press conference, Asselborn announced that the Palestinians would appoint an official ambassador to Luxembourg, upgrading the status of Palestinian representation in the country. He also expressed his hope that the peace talks would resume in 2015.
Asselborn condemned Israel for freezing the tax revenues. “The destabilization of Palestinian authorities by way of budgetary restrictions can not be in anyone’s interest, and especially not Israel’s,” he added.