Israel has frozen half a billion shekels – $127 million – in tax revenues for the Palestinian Authority in retaliation for Mahmoud Abbas’ seeking membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC), where he plans to sue Israel for war crimes.
The United Nations confirmed it has received the documents for joining, but it will take at least 60 days before membership can be approved. In the meantime, Ramallah, already cash-strapped because it pours its welfare payments from the European Union into private pockets, is going to have scramble elsewhere for the money.
The Israeli government decided on Thursday to freeze the funds collected in December but kept silent until the Palestinian Authority actually went through with its threat to try to join the ICC.
Israel previously has frozen transfers of tax revenues it collects for the Palestinian Authority, the last time being last April when Abbas threatened to join the ICC
The U.S. was unhappy with the Israeli move, and U.S. State Dept. Jen Psaki said that the move was “unfortunate” and that “the regular transfer of the Palestinian Authority’s tax revenues and economic cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority has been beneficial and is important to the well-being of the Palestinian economy.”
This time around, she may button her lip since Abbas has diplomatically spit in the face of her boss by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry by bursting his illusion of the “peace process.”
Kerry has naively bought the hocus-pocus that the Palestinian Authority is interested in a peace treaty with Israel except on Abbas’ terms, or more accurately, the terms of the Arab world.
After the Security Council rejected the resolution, which the United States voted against, the Palestinian Authority moved in rapid-fire pace on the diplomatic front since its failed attempt to have the United Nations Security Council pass a resolution that would require Israel to agree to hand over the fort – half of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria – and then actually do so within three years.
Within two days of the Council’s negative decision, Abbas rushed to the United Nations with documents to join the ICC and more than a dozen other international treaties.
It was a step that Abbas has been planning for a long time during the ‘peace talks” charades ballyhooed by Kerry.
It is unlikely that Israel will surrender this time around and turnover the tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority, which can start begging from the nearly bankrupt European Union or from oil-rich Arab states. Qatar used to give money to Hamas in Gaza but not Ramallah.
Gulf States businessmen have invested in private projects in the Palestinian Authority but not in the government.
There is no way Congress will allow more aid to the Palestinian Authority, and it may even place sanctions on it.
Russia’s economy is in a tailspin.
Assistance from Tehran would expose even more the farce of the entity known, for the time being, as the Palestinian Authority.