Israel to use PA tax money to offset Israeli debts
The Israeli government has decided to use tax money collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a nine-month deadline for the so-called peace talks expired on Tuesday.
Israeli officials said that Tel Aviv would use the tax money to offset debts to Israeli electricity and water companies. The measure by Tel Aviv is aimed at putting more pressure on the Palestinians.
The efforts to reach a deal between the two sides hit a snag in March after Israel refused to release 26 Palestinian prisoners despite earlier pledges to do so. Israel also continued constructing illegal settlements on occupied lands.
The move prompted acting Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas to respond by signing letters of accession to 15 international conventions on April 1.
On April 8, Riyad Mansour, the PA ambassador to the United Nations, said Palestine would officially become a state party to 13 of the 15 conventions on May 2.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suspended the talks after the Fatah movement signed a reconciliation deal with the Palestinian resistance movement of Hamas on April 23.
“As long as I’m Prime Minister of Israel, we will not negotiate with a government that is backed by Hamas, an organization that is committed to our destruction,” Netanyahu said in an interview with an American TV channel on April 27.
Last Palestinian-Israeli talks broke down in September 2010, after Tel Aviv refused to freeze its settlement activities in the occupied West Bank.
Palestinians are seeking to create an independent state on the territories of the West Bank, East al-Quds (Jerusalem), and the besieged Gaza Strip and are demanding that Israel withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories.
The presence and continued expansion of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine has created a major obstacle for the efforts to establish peace in the Middle East.