Jan. 3, 2014: by David Pratt
In response to Palestine’s move to join the International Criminal Court, Israel said it is withholding $127 million in Palestinian tax revenue it collects for the Palestinian Authority. Palestine warned this could lead to the collapse of the Authority and the loss of public services in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas took steps towards joining the ICC after the failure last week of a United Nations resolution to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. Joining the ICC could help pave the way for Palestine to bring war crime proceedings against Israel.
The U.N. resolution which called for ending the Israeli occupation in two years failed by just one vote. It was opposed by the United States, which also is against Palestine’s move to join the ICC.
“It will badly damage the atmosphere with the very people with whom they ultimately need to make peace,” U.S. State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez said.
Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said the tax revenue makes up the majority of the Palestinian Authority’s operating budget. Israel has threatened further punitive measures if Palestine persists with its intention of joining the International Criminal Court.