Exclusive: In exchange for freed tax funds, PA won’t pursue Israel over settlements at ICC
Israel pledges to release frozen funds accrued, but whether it releases upcoming revenues dependent on PA actions.
By HERB KEINON
The Palestinian Authority will formally join the International Criminal Court on April 1, but – following Israel’s decision on Friday to release frozen tax revenues – is not expected at this time to take steps against Israel in the ICC regarding settlement construction.In addition, The Jerusalem Post has learned that while the ICC prosecutor has – at the PA’s request – opened a preliminary examination on alleged Israeli war crimes during Operation Protective Edge over the summer, the PA is not expected at this time to take additional legal steps in the ICC regarding the Gaza operation.As a result of Israel’s decision to free up the funds, the PA also does not intend now to stop its security cooperation with Israel, the Post also learned.It was the PA’s steps to join the ICC at the end of December that led Israel to freeze the monthly tax transfers in the first place.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Friday that, at the recommendation of the security establishment, the money that has accrued since then, some $500 million, will be freed up, though the PA’s electric, water and hospital bills to Israel will be subtracted from those funds.Since January Israel has held up the monthly tax transfers and custom duties it passes on to Ramallah.The Israeli statement on Friday about the release of the funds referred only to revenues that have been held up until now, but made no mention about whether from now on the payments will be renewed.AdvertisementOne government official said that no decision has yet been made regarding whether March’s revenues will be transferred, an indication that this will depend on whether the PA does indeed not pursue other moves at this time at the ICC, and whether it maintains its security cooperation with Israel.With the security establishment recommending for weeks the transfer of the frozen funds in order to reduce tension in the West Bank, it was expected for some time that this move would take place relatively soon after the March 17 election.PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki is expected to visit the Hague on April 1 to mark the PA’s formally joining the ICC. That same day Maliki is also expected to meet Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders.Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte raised the tax revenue issue in his post-election congratulatory conversation with Netanyahu last week, and the Netherlands has been one of the countries raising this issue consistently in recent weeks both at the ministerial level and in meetings with top advisers and policy advisers in Jerusalem.
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