Chief Palestinian negotiator and member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), Saeb Erekat, on Monday denounced the connection Israel has made between releasing tax revenues and halting reconciliation talks with Hamas.
"This reflects the level of blackmail and indignity which Israel practices against the Palestinian Authority (PA)," Erekat told a local Palestine radio station. "What the Israeli financial minister said regarding the freezing of the funds is completely unacceptable as internal reconciliation is of utmost Palestinian interest."
Israeli media reported that the Israeli finance minister, Yuval Steinitz, threatened Fateh leaders with cutting Palestinian tax revenues should they enter a Palestinian national unity government with Hamas.
Erekat said that "Such remarks reflect the real face of the Israeli occupation which practices piracy with the Palestinians." He affirmed that "Israel does not want to see a Palestinian reconciliation" and called for the Arab nations to "recognise this fact."
The Palestinian government in Ramallah has been suffering severe financial crisis for a third month since Israel stopped transferring the tax revenues it collect on behalf of the PA at Israeli-Palestinian commercial crossings. The step was taken as a punitive measure when the PA went to the UN Assembly to ask for status as a non-member observer state last November.