Palestinians take part in a protest against a social security law in Ramallah, October 29, 2018.
(photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – Jason Greenblatt, Special Representative for International Negotiations, rejected the warning of PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, who told The New York Times in an interview that the Palestinian Authority is in dire straits.
“Shtayyeh is wrong,” Greenblatt tweeted on Wednesday. “The Palestinian Authority isn’t ‘in a collapsing situation,’ the PA caused the situation. Time for the PA to step-up and take responsibility for their people and the economy. The PA can’t continue to blame the United States and everyone else for a situation they caused.”
Shtayyeh addressed the new Israeli anti-terrorism law that allows Israel to withhold part of the Palestinian revenue. Since Israel started to withhold the monthly stipend for Palestinians who attacked Israelis (also known as slay-for-pay money) from the tax revenue collected on behalf of the Palestinians, the Palestinian Authority refused to accept any payment from Israel, as it would be tantamount to admitting that the slay-for-pay money supports terrorism.
“Politically, we cannot take it that our kids in jail are terrorists,” Shtayyeh said. He added that if Israel wants to create a situation in which the PA collapses, “let them push it to collapse. We will not dissolve the authority. But they can push it to collapse.”
The PA prime minister predicted that the PA could run out of funds by July or August, which could lead to bankruptcy. He warned that if that happens, the PA could not pay for security forces. “It’s a very hot summer. At every level,” Shtayyeh told the Times. “I hope we will not reach that point.”
Meanwhile, Israeli Public Broadcaster KAN 11 reported that in a meeting between delegates from the Finance Ministry, the Israeli Electricity Company, COGAT and the PA, the Israeli representatives made it clear that Israel will not accept a situation in which the PA does not pay its growing electricity bill. The debt is estimated to be about NIS 2 billion, according to KAN 11, which is nearly equal to the amount Israel withholds from the Palestinians.
According to the report, the Palestinian delegation refused a compromise, including a long-term payment arrangement, and defied the Israelis by saying, “so disconnect us from the power grid.” In the end, the sides agreed for a follow-up meeting in two weeks to discuss the debt.
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