The Palestinian Authority (PA) has doubled down in its effort to end coordination with Israel by announcing that it will no longer accept tax revenue transfers from Israel. The $222 million or so a month which Tel Aviv collects on behalf of the PA as per the Oslo agreement, which is often withheld by the Zionist state to punish Palestinians, is the latest move by Mahmoud Abbas against Israel's planned annexation of the West Bank in violation of international law.
"We confirm that we refused and continue to refuse the delivery of the tax revenues in adherence to the decision of the Palestinian leadership that we are absolved of all understandings and agreements with Israel," Palestinian Civil Affairs Commission Director Hussein Al-Sheikh said.
PA government spokesperson Ibrahim Milhim confirmed Al-Sheikh's statement in a tweet yesterday saying: "The Palestinian government rejected its regular tax transfer from Israel for May 2020, implementing its announcement to end coordination with Israel."
Tax revenues transferred to the PA by Israel account for a large percentage of its budget. In 2019 approximately 60 per cent of the PA's revenue came from taxes collected by Israel on its behalf; an arrangement which critics say is one of the many oddities of the Oslo process. By allowing Israel to control tax revenue belonging to the Palestinians, the PA surrendered one of its many rights.
The authority relies on these funds to pay government employees and provide basic services. While Palestinians could be hurt by the move, it is an instrument of pressure the PA has wielded on several occasions to try to push Israel to reverse course on policy decisions.
It is not clear how long the cash-strapped PA can sustain this position. The coronavirus crisis has already caused significant damage to the West Bank economy. According to the World Bank poverty rates will double as the occupation continues to suffocate the Palestinian territories.