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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during a ceremony marking the 54th anniversary of Fatahs founding, in Ramallah, December 31, 2018.(Photo by: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)
PA responds to pay-for-slay, will not accept money if deductions made
PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said that his government was “prepared for all scenarios in case Israel deducts money from the tax and tariff duties.”
Israel’s decision to deduct money from tax and tariff revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority will lead to anarchy in the West Bank, Palestinian officials in Ramallah warned on Sunday.

The warning came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the weekly cabinet meeting earlier in the day that Israel will deduct money from the taxes and tariffs it collects monthly on behalf of the PA, which it then uses to pay security prisoners and families of Palestinians who were killed while carrying out attacks against Israelis. Last week, PA President Mahmoud Abbas informed Israel that the Palestinians will reject any money transfer if Israel deducts “one penny” from it, the PA minister for civilian affairs, Hussein al-Sheikh, told the international French news agency AFP.

He said that international financial parties and institutions have begun complying with a US request to impose a strict financial embargo on the PA. As a result of the request, the Arab League was not able to transfer a $10 million grant from Iraq to the PA, al-Sheikh revealed.

Al-Sheikh later said that the PA will “not allow any act of piracy against our money under the pretext of implementing Israeli law. We affirm that if we have one dollar, we will spend it on the families of our martyrs and prisoners.”

“We are a people under occupation, which is the ugliest form of terrorism,” he later added. “We have the right to liberty and independence.”

PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said that his government was “prepared for all scenarios in case Israel deducts money from the tax and tariff duties.” He did not elaborate.

However, Hamdallah and several senior Palestinian officials said that the Israeli move will not deter the PA from continuing its financial aid to security prisoners and families of “martyrs.”

A PA official condemned the Israeli decision, calling it “an act of piracy and theft.” He warned that Israeli and US financial sanctions against the PA will lead to a “state of anarchy” in the West Bank.

Another PA official accused Netanyahu of using the revenues as part of his election campaign. “Netanyahu wants to show his people that he’s punishing the Palestinians so he can win more votes,” the official said. He also warned that financial sanctions against the PA will lead to “chaos” in the West Bank and “present the best gift to Hamas.”

PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat, who is currently visiting Egypt, complained on Sunday that the US administration has already cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians.

The move, he said, has left road, school and sanitation projects in the West Bank and Gaza Strip unfinished. All scholarships to Palestinian students have also been halted, Erekat said.
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