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EC criticises Israeli decision to withhold Palestinian tax funds

EC criticises Israeli decision to withhold Palestinian tax funds

Brussels: The European Commission Tuesday criticised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to withhold tax revenues from the Palestinians in reprisal for their bid to join the Hague-based International Criminal Court, ICC.

"The decision of the Israeli government to halt the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority runs counter to Israel's obligations under the Paris Protocol," said Maja Kocijancic, a spokesperson for the European Commission.

The Paris Protocol regulates economic relations between Israelis and Palestinians.

After a motion that would have required Israel to withdraw from the Occupied Territories by 2017 was defeated late last month in the UN Security Council, the Palestinian Authority formally requested to join the international tribunal where it intends to press war crimes charges against Israel.

Netanyahu, in response, decided to halt the transfer of $127.6 million in tax revenues collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in December, a move that the E.C. spokesperson considered unjustified and counter-productive.

"An effective Palestinian Authority, committed to non-violence and a peaceful resolution of the conflict, is a key element for a two-State solution," Kocijancic said.

"In this regard, the EU is providing considerable support, including financial assistance, to ensure the building of the institutions and infrastructure of a future Palestinian State," the spokesperson added.

"These achievements should not be put at risk by not meeting obligations regarding the timely and transparent transfer of tax and custom revenues," Kocijancic stressed, adding that the EU will step up efforts to promote a lasting peace based on a two-state solution.

On Monday, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin also slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to withhold tax money from the Palestinian Authority (PA) in response to the latter's bid to join the International Criminal Court (ICC).

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