Reports from Israel claim that the Israeli government has seized hundreds of millions of shekels (NIS) in tax revenues collected in the West Bank meant for the Palestinian Authority. According to the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, “The Deputy Attorney-General has ruled that the practice should be stopped and ordered an inquiry”.
The report added that, for the past 15 years, and contrary to international law, the Israeli government has not redirected the funds that have been collected by the Civil Administration. These include “fees and levies for various activities such as royalties from quarries and levies on public auctions”. The sums involved sometimes reached “as much as NIS 80 million a year”.
Ha’aretz went on: “Until the Oslo Accords in the 1990s, the funds were transferred to the Civil Administration to be used for operational expenses as well as for infrastructure and welfare services for Palestinians in the [occupied] territories. The Oslo Accords dictated the closing down of the administration, the funds in question were reclassified as income to the Israel Lands Administration and were redirected to state coffers.”
In this context the Ha’aretz report noted that “international law prohibits an occupying power from appropriating the fruit of economic activity in an occupied territory”.
The Israeli Ministry of Finance is opposed to compensating the Civil Administration “for the funds it lost to the state”, claiming that, for the past 15 years, “the state has invested in the West Bank… more than double the amount it has collected”.