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‘Israel to deduct sums from tax revenue belonging to Palestinians’

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives to attend a meeting in the occupied Jerusalem al-Quds, on February 3, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

The Israeli regime controversially plans to deduct certain amounts from the tax it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA) before handing it over to the PA.

The Palestinian Ma’an news agency, citing Israel Hayom newspaper, reported on Monday that Tel Aviv would likely approve a deduction in tax revenues relative to the amounts the Ramallah-based PA pays to the Palestinians languishing in Israeli jails or the families of those killed by the regime’s military.

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said in closed-door talks that the deduction will go ahead,” the report quoted unnamed sources as saying.

According to the report, the Israeli ministry of military affairs is in the “advanced stages” of compiling data on PA payments to determine how much funding will be withheld. Once a ministry report is complete, the Israeli finance ministry will carry out the deduction.

In early July last year, Israel’s parliament (Knesset) passed a bill to withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in funds from the Palestinians over welfare payments given to prisoners and their families.

At the time, Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Saeb Erekat condemned the decision, which he described as “piracy.”

The stipends benefit roughly 35,000 families of the Palestinians killed and wounded by Israel. The PA says the payments are a form of welfare stipend to the families who have lost their main breadwinner. The Israeli regime calls that “terrorist salaries.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has also defended such payments as an important function of his administration.

In a speech in June 2017, Abbas argued that “payments to support the families are a social responsibility to look after innocent people affected by the incarceration or killing of their loved ones.”

“It’s quite frankly racist rhetoric to call all our political prisoners terrorists,” Abbas said. “They are, in actuality, the victims of the occupation, not the creators of the occupation.”

Earlier, the United States officially ended its financial support for Palestinian security services.

The US President Donald Trump administration has taken a harsh stance against the Palestinians. In August, the Trump administration announced it was slashing millions of dollars in support to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

Millions of dollars have also been cut in aid to the Palestinians for projects in the West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip, including to hospitals in the occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds.

Last year, the US also moved its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds, recognizing that city as Israel’s “capital.” Ramallah has refused to take part in any US-led negotiations with the Israeli regime since that move.

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