RAMALLAH, Thursday, February 21, 2019 (WAFA) – Minister of Finance and Planning, Shukri Bishara, said on Thursday that the Palestinian government will continue its timely payment of public servants’ salaries for the coming months, but said a minor reduction could be applied to the monthly payroll as a result of Israel’s withholding of the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinians.
In a joint press conference with Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki, Bishara said the government decided not to accept the tax revenues Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinians if they were short by one penny.
“We are coming on difficult days in the coming weeks, and we will handle the issue of salaries as wisely and fairly as possible,” he explained. “There are high salaries that may not be fully paid, but low salaries will be paid as usual.”
Bishara said the salaries of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and the families of those killed by Israeli forces will be paid 100% full. “There will be difficulties, but we will not turn our backs on them under any circumstances.”
“We have a chronic deficit since the establishment of the PNA as a result of the occupation. We are deprived of our resources, of any control over our borders, and there is a siege and obstruction of movement,” he said during the conference.
He added, “They [the Israelis] control everything, it is impossible to maintain a sustainable economy, and the new Israeli decision makes things even more complicated.”
In the meantime, the Finance Minister said measures have been taken to rearrange the economic relationship with Israel, which is governed by the Paris Economic Protocol, under which Israel collects customs duties on behalf of the Palestinian Authority for goods imported to Palestine through Israeli border crossings.
Asked whether boycotting Israeli products was among the possible steps to respond to the Israeli decision, Bishara responded: “This is one of the steps being studied. We have to prefer Palestinian over Israeli products. They [the Israelis] forced us this time to act differently.”