Middle East

Shtayyeh: Donors must press Israel to halt tax deductions

The Palestinian Authority will ask donor countries that are meeting in Norway on Tuesday to put pressure on Israel to stop deducting money from tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinians, PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Monday.

Shtayyeh was referring to Israel’s policy of deducting hundreds of millions of shekels from the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the PA on Palestinian imports and exports.

The deductions are equivalent to the stipends the PA pays every month to the families of Palestinians killed or imprisoned by Israel for carrying out terrorist attacks against Israelis.

Shtayyeh’s announcement came on the eve of the meeting in Norway of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee of donor countries to the PA.

“Tomorrow I will begin a visit to Norway, where I will participate in a meeting of the donor countries and hold meetings with the Norwegian government,” he said. “The timing of the visit is extremely important because it comes at a time when we are witnessing a difficult economic situation. We will ask the friendly countries to pressure Israel to halt the deduction of the Palestinian tax revenues and to increase their financial aid so that we would be able to meet our obligations.”

PALESTINIAN PRIME Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh – refusing to recognize that Arab states have a right to defend their vital interests. (credit: ALAA BADARNEH/POOL VIA REUTERS)

Shtayyeh was speaking during the weekly meeting of the PA cabinet, which was held in the town of A-Ram, north of Jerusalem.

Located in Area B of the West Bank, A-Ram is not included within the boundaries of the Jerusalem Municipality, although most of its residents hold Israeli-issued ID cards in their capacity as permanent residents of the city.

The PA’s “Governorate of Jerusalem,” located in A-Ram, is banned from operating in Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem that are under Israeli sovereignty.

The governorate consists of two sub-districts: Jerusalem 1, which includes all the Arab neighborhoods under Israeli sovereignty, and Jerusalem 2, which consists of more than 20 West Bank villages and towns surrounding Jerusalem, such as Abu Dis, Al-Eizariya, A-Ram, Qalandiya and Hizma.

The PA’s governor of Jerusalem, Adnan Gheith, was unable to attend the meeting of the cabinet due to restrictions imposed on him by Israeli authorities, including a ban on entering the West Bank.

“We are meeting on the outskirts of our eternal capital, Jerusalem,” Shtayyeh said during the meeting, which was devoted to discussing ways of supporting the residents of the Jerusalem governorate.

Shtayyeh accused Israel of working to change the identity of Jerusalem through “annexation, ethnic cleansing and racism.”

Pledging to provide all forms of support for Jerusalem, Shtayyeh stressed that the Palestinians will not “give up one inch of our land and Arab city.”

The PA cabinet, he said, will discuss labeling Jerusalem as a priority development area.

“We will allocate a certain percentage of Arab funds to strengthen the steadfastness of the Jerusalemites,” Shtayyeh said.

In addition, the cabinet discussed ways of supporting the Arab merchants in the Old City of Jerusalem, especially the owners of souvenir shops whose businesses were closed after the outbreak of the coronavirus, he said.

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