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Israel Unfreezes Palestinian Tax Revenue

Withheld funds following PA move to join International Criminal Court

Stephanie Butnick
March 27, 2015
West Bank village of Anata seen beyond Israel's separation barrier/ (THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)
West Bank village of Anata seen beyond Israel’s separation barrier/ (THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)

Back in January, when the Palestinian Authority moved to join the International Criminal Court as a means of pursuing war crimes charges against Israel over this summer’s Gaza war, Israel responded by swiftly freezing NIS 500 million (roughly $127 million) in Palestinian tax revenue typically transferred to PA officials in Ramallah. Today, less than a week before the PA is set to become an official ICC member (April 1), Israel announced it would unfreeze the funds and resume tax transfers to the PA.

According to a statement released by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, Netanyahu approved the recommendation made by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, the IDF, and the Shin Bet intelligence agency, whose collaboration indicates the extreme effects of withholding the more than $100 million monthly revenue.

The statement explained that the frozen funds would be returned not as cash but in the form of services. “In light of this decision, the tax revenues that accrued until this past February will be offset by payments for services rendered to the Palestinian population, including electricity, water, and hospital services.”

It continued: “The decision was made due to, among other things, humanitarian considerations and an overall view toward serving Israel’s interests at this juncture.”

Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.