Frederica Mogherini, the head of European diplomacy, criticized Tuesday’s (January 6) decision of the Israeli government to freeze tax revenues of Palestinian authority in retaliation for joining the International Criminal Court (ICC). Brussels also called on both sides to refrain from steps that might jeopardize peace efforts. The tax freeze, according to the EU, “runs counter to Israel’s obligations”, agreed in 1994 following the Oslo peace accords. “An effective Palestinian Authority, committed to non-violence and a peaceful resolution of the conflict, is a key element for a two-state solution,” Mrs Mogherini added.
She also said that the EU was a major source of financial assistance for Ramallah, which has helped to develop the Palestinian economy. However, those achievements could be at risk by Israel “not meeting obligations regarding the timely and transparent transfer of tax and custom revenues,” the EU thinks. Mrs Mogherini concluded, without referring to the Palestinian bid to join the EU, that this Israeli step could intensify the tense situation and bring both sides further away from the desired solution. “Both sides should avoid taking actions which could raise obstacles to the rapid return to the negotiations,” she added.
Israel has halted the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinians after Ramallah applied last week to join the ICC, a move opposed both by Israel and the United States. In response, Tel Aviv informed that €106 million collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in December last year would be held back. Palestinians have condemned the new Israeli measure saying it is a “new war crime”. The United States has also censured Israel’s tax freeze but warned that any steps taken by the Palestinian Authority at the ICC against Israelis would have “implications.”