Palestinians seek UN help on Israel tax freeze

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories — The Palestinians have asked for UN intervention to free up funds frozen by Israel after they gained UNESCO membership, the Palestinian foreign minister said on Monday.

By (AFP)

Published: Mon 21 Nov 2011, 9:34 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 9:35 AM

Three weeks ago, Israel’s cabinet decided to halt the transfer of tax and tariff money it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority after the Palestinians won membership in the UN cultural organisation.

Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said the Palestinians were calling on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to intervene in the issue and secure the release of the funds, the collection and transfer of which is governed by the 1994 Paris Accords which were signed by both sides.

“We periodically send reports to the secretary general on measures being taken by Israel to open their eyes, and we send a copy of these reports to the Security Council and head of the General Assembly,” Malki told AFP.

“In the last report we raised the issue of the money and asked for intervention so Israel will release the funds,” he added.

Israel said it was halting the transfer of funds on November 1 as a punitive measure after UNESCO vote to grant the Palestinians membership, despite US and Israeli objections.

Every month, Israel transfers tens of millions of dollars in customs duties which are levied on goods destined for Palestinian markets that transit through Israeli ports, and which constitute a large percentage of the Palestinian budget.

Israel often freezes the transfer of funds as a punitive measure in response to diplomatic or political developments viewed as harmful.

The last time the monies were frozen was in May shortly after the Fatah movement signed an unexpected unity deal with Hamas, the Islamist movement which rules the Gaza Strip.

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