'If Israel halts tax money, PA will push for state earlier'

Abbas warns if Israel doesn't cancel plans to stop transfer millions in tax revenue, PA will request statehood from UN before September.

mahmoud abbas_311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
mahmoud abbas_311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
PalestinianAuthority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday warned that if Israel does not cancel plans to stop the flow of tax funds to the PA, it will pursue a United Nations resolution recognizing Palestinian statehood before its planned date in September, perhaps in May.
"September is the ninth month, if the extortion continues, we will file a request with the UN during the fifth or sixth month of the year," Abbas said in a speech given during the signing of the Hamas-Fatah unity deal in Cairo.
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Abbas, who heads Fatah, and senior Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal earlier Wednesday endorsed a deal to end a four-year rift.
Mashaal spoke at the Cairo ceremony, saying: "We are prepared to pay any price for reconciliation."
"The only campaign we have is against Israel," he added. "We want an independent, sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip."
In response to Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz withholding tax revenues to the PA, Abbas said: "Are you punishing us for unity? We did not break Israeli law. We did not attack Israelis like they attack us."

On Sunday, the PA warned that it would not be able to pay salaries to its civil servants because of the government’s decision to temporarily halt the transfer of millions of dollars in tax revenue.
Khaled Abu Toameh and Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.