Is­rael, Pales­tini­ans ‘reach ac­cord’ over frozen taxes

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Is­rael has agreed to trans­fer in full hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in taxes col­lected for the Pales­tinian Author­ity but frozen in a row over the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court, the Pales­tinian pre­mier said.

Rami Ham­dal­lah, in a state­ment from his of­fice late Fri­day, said Is­rael pledged at a meet­ing with Pales­tinian of­fi­cials to hand over the taxes col­lected be­tween De­cem­ber and March, amount­ing to al­most half a bil­lion dol­lars.

Is­raeli of­fi­cials on Satur­day con­firmed an agree­ment was sealed on the taxes, while the me­dia said the trans­fer of 1.8 bil­lion shekels would take place on Mon­day.

The U.N. spe­cial co­or­di­na­tor for Mid­dle East peace ef­forts, Nick­o­lay Mlade­nov, wel­comed the deal as an im­por­tant step “in the right di­rec­tion.”

The Pales­tini­ans had threat­ened to turn to the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court over Is­rael’s de­ci­sion in early Jan­uary to re­tain the taxes in re­tal­i­a­tion for the Pales­tini­ans join­ing the ICC.

The monthly funds ac­count for two-thirds of the Pales­tini­ans’ an­nual bud­get, ex­clud­ing for­eign aid.

Is­rael agreed at the start of April to re­lease the funds af­ter de­duct­ing debts due for elec­tric­ity, wa­ter and med­i­cal ser­vices, a pro­posal re­jected by the Pales­tini­ans who in­sisted on full pay­ment.

Ham­dal­lah said the PA, once the funds are re­ceived, will firstly pay the April salaries of its 180,000 em­ploy­ees, who have been re­ceiv­ing only 60 per­cent of their wages since De­cem­ber.

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