Israel’s decision to deduct welfare payments to Palestinian security prisoners and their families from tax and tariff revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority is an act of piracy, PA President Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday.
Speaking during a meeting of Palestinian leaders in Ramallah, Abbas said that the PA will refuse to accept any payment from Israel that is “missing one penny.” He also vowed to continue financial aid to the prisoners and the families of Palestinian “martyrs.”
“In the name of the people and Palestinian leadership, I declare our condemnation and rejection of this unjust decision,” Abbas said, referring to the Security Cabinet’s recent decision to withhold more than $138 million in tax and tariff revenues. The move would deduct funds equal to the amount the PA spent to support prisoners and families of terrorists in 2018.
“We will not accept any money that is missing one penny. We won’t agree to this. Either we get all our money and rights, or we won’t accept one penny from them.”
The Israeli decision, Abbas claimed, was in the context of measures to “tighten the blockade” on the Palestinians to force them to accept US President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-unveiled plan for peace in the Middle East, also known as the “deal of the century.” In his speech, Abbas referred to the unseen plan as the “deal of shame.” He had previously denounced the upcoming peace plan as the “slap of the century.”
The decision, Abbas said, is the “last nail on the coffin of the Paris agreement and an attempt on the part of Israel to avoid fulfilling all signed agreements” with the Palestinians. He was referring to the Protocol on Economic Relations, also called the Paris Protocol, that was signed between Israel and the PLO in 1994. The agreement regulates the relationship and interaction between Israel and the PA in the areas of customs, taxes, labor, agriculture and tourism.
Abbas stressed that the issue of the families of prisoners and “martyrs” remains on the top of the PA leadership’s list of priorities. “Any amount of money that is available to us will be spent on them,” he said. “Afterwards, we will think of all the others – until everyone understands that the martyrs, prisoners and wounded are the greatest and most honorable our people have.”
He also warned against the “dangerous consequences” of the absence of a “horizon for peace” and accused the Israeli government of pursuing its “crimes” against the Palestinians. He also hinted that the PA would consider suspending security and economic ties with Israel in response to the decision to deduct the payments from the tax and tariff revenues.