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The Palestinian Authority must change if it is not to collapse

26 6 1

The Israeli cabinet has decided to deduct the stipends paid to Palestinian prisoners and the families of martyrs from the tax revenues collected by the occupation government on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. These payments amount to more than half a billion shekels a year, which is roughly $138 million. It has not yet been decided if this is going to be deducted all at once or divided and deducted monthly. Will the implementation of this cabinet decision, I wonder, lead to the collapse of the PA?

The PA had previously threatened not to take a penny of the tax revenues if Israel deducted anything from them. After this decision by the Israeli cabinet, though, it looks as if the PA has retracted its threat on the grounds that it will look into a proper response and announce it later. Things have become real now.

READ: EU slams Israel’s deduction of $138m of PA tax revenues

We should warn the PA that increasing taxes to compensate for the theft of Palestinian funds by the Israeli occupation authorities will have adverse consequences. Instead, the PA should impose an austerity plan that includes those on the government payroll who receive high salaries, privileges and expenses that they can easily do without. The PA should not impose new sanctions against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip or touch the prisoners’ stipends and those of the martyrs’ families. We also need to warn against reactions such as refusing to take the rest of the tax revenues while not providing alternative income streams, because these are Palestinian funds and not Israeli welfare payments.

The PA can seek help from the Arab safety net and move at all levels — legal, administrative, political and public — to reject Israel’s piracy and aggressive policies. More importantly, the authority can develop a gradual plan to implement decisions of the National Council, in conjunction with other alternatives, instead of wasting time by talking repeatedly about arranging meetings or committees to develop plans to implement decisions that were taken by the Central Council in March 2015.

The Israeli decision could be temporary and linked to electioneering in a fierce campaign between the right and extreme right wings, each vying to see which is more hostile towards the Palestinians. If that is the case, then things could go back to normal after the 9 April General........

© Middle East Monitor