Blair calls on J'lem to release PA tax funds

Quartet envoy says only those opposed to peace benefit from the freeze of tax funds; Ban Ki-moon asks PM to resume the transfers.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
November 23, 2011 18:30
2 minute read.
UN Sec.-Gen. Ban Ki-moon and Tony Blair

UN Sec.-Gen. Ban Ki-moon and Quartet envoy Tony Blair 311 (R. (photo credit: Chip East / Reuters)

 
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Quartet representative Tony Blair Wednesday called on Israel to resume the transfer of taxes to the Palestinian Authority "without delay," saying that only those who oppose peace benefit from the freeze on funds. Earlier Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also urged Jerusalem to release the money.

The security cabinet decided last week to continue to freeze the transfer of tax revenues to the PA. Israel first suspended the transfers earlier this month after UNESCO accepted the Palestinians as a full member and in protest of the continued Palestinian pursuit of unilateral statehood at the UN.

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"I continue to call on the Israeli government to release the clearance revenues it is withholding from the Palestinian Authority without delay and resume their transfer on a regular basis," Blair said in a statement.

"The funds are vital for the functioning of the PA and Israel's withholding of these Palestinian funds threatens the salaries of some 180,000 employees, including Palestinian security officials who are working to provide security in the West Bank," the Quartet representative added.

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"Only those who oppose peace," Blair added, benefit from withholding the funds from the PA.

Earlier Tuesday, Ban Ki-moon asked Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to resume the transfer of tax revenues to the PA, according to a UN spokesperson.

In a telephone conversation with the prime minister, Ban also expressed concern about Israel's plans for construction in the settlements, while praising the country's "approval of new UN construction projects worth US$ 5.5 million in Gaza."

The secretary-general emphasized the importance of creating "an environment conducive for the resumption of direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians."

In a series of retaliatory moves against the Palestinian Authority earlier this month, Israel decided to accelerate Jewish construction over the pre-1967 lines and temporarily suspend the transfer of tax funds to the PA.

It issued the punitive steps just one day after the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) accepted the Palestinian Authority’s bid to become its 195th member. The PA also plans to request membership in other UN agencies.

Tovah Lazaroff, Lahav Harkov and Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.

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