Israel has said it will hold on the transfer of Palestinian tax collections as punishment for the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s successful membership admission to UNESCO.
On Monday, Israeli Cabinet ministers decided not to release about $100 million in taxes owed to the Palestinians, the Associated Press reported.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ministers decided to accelerate illegal construction work in the occupied territories and to freeze the transfer of funds to the PA on November 1, a day after the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) voted to admit Palestine into the organization as its newest member at its Paris headquarters.
The transfers were suspended on November 3.
An Israeli official said Tel Aviv had not stopped its policy of punishing the Palestinians. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to reveal the contents of the closed-door meeting of ministers with Netanyahu.
Every month, Israel collects about $60 million in customs duties, which is levied on goods destined for Palestinian markets through Israeli ports. The funds make up a large percentage of the PA budget.
Tel Aviv’s latest move will further increase the strain on the economy of Palestine that is already in trouble due to Israeli restrictions.
The PA says it pays more than $200 million every month only in salaries and financial assistance to the neediest Palestinian families.