The United States accused the Palestinians on Friday of manufacturing a crisis by rejecting the first 2019 monthly tax transfer from Israel because it slashed a portion designated for financial support to families of militants jailed in Israel.
The United Nations Security Council met behind closed doors to discuss the issue at the request of Kuwait and Indonesia. US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt represented Washington at the meeting.
“It is entirely inappropriate to focus on Israel as the source of this crisis. It is the Palestinian Authority that has chosen to manufacture the current crisis,” Greenblatt told the 15-member council, according to UN diplomats in attendance.
The US mission to the United Nations declined to comment on Greenblatt’s remarks. The Palestinians have condemned the Israeli decision as “piracy.”
Greenblatt and White House adviser Jared Kushner have been working on a plan to mediate peace between Israel and the Palestinians. UN diplomats said Greenblatt gave no details of the plan on Friday.
Destabilizing the Palestinian Authority
Palestinians have refused to discuss any peace blueprint with the United States in the wake of Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017.
The Palestinian decision on the tax transfer came despite increasing cash flow troubles, caused in part by US aid cuts, which could destabilize the Palestinian Authority, an interim self-government body set up following the 1993 Oslo accords between the Palestinians and Israel.
Under the interim accords, Israel collects taxes on imports into the Israeli-occupied West Bank and in the Gaza Strip and makes monthly transfers of the proceeds to the PA.
The tax transfers make up about half of the PA’s budget, according to Palestinian Finance Ministry data. On February 17, Israel announced a freeze on about 5 percent of that money affecting stipends the PA pays to families of Palestinian militants killed or jailed by Israel.
“It’s a unilateral decision in violation of existing bilateral agreement,” Kuwait’s UN Ambassador Mansour al-Otaibi told reporters after the Security Council discussion.
According to diplomats, Greenblatt said the Palestinian payments to militants’ families “creates incentives for further acts of terrorism.” The United States passed legislation last year to reduce aid to the PA unless it stopped the pay-outs.
Greenblatt called on other council members to join the United States in urging the Palestinian Authority to end the payments, diplomats said.
Palestinians reject monthly tax transfer from Israel over prisoners disputeThe Palestinian Authority has rejected the first 2019 monthly tax transfer from Israel because it slashed the portion designated for financial support ... Middle East
Palestinian president rejects tax money from IsraelThe Palestinian Authority (PA) will no longer accept tax revenues collected on its behalf by Israel following its decision to trim the sum over the ... Middle East
Israel cuts Palestinian tax transfersAides to Netanyahu described the move as a response to the killing of two Israelis in Palestinian attacks in the West Bank this week Middle East
Israel, Palestinians 'reach accord' on frozen taxesIsrael pledged at a meeting with Palestinian officials to hand over the taxes collected between December and March Middle East
Abbas rejects Israel tax transfer, threatens to turn to ICCUnder existing agreements, Israel collects taxes and customs on behalf of the Palestinians Middle East