RAMALLAH, Tuesday, February 19, 2019 (WAFA) – The Palestinian cabinet condemned Israel’s approval of a bill deducting the welfare payments of detainees and families of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces from the Palestinian tax revenues.
During its weekly meeting held in Ramallah, the cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, slammed Israel’s decision to deduct $138 million from the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority as “political blackmailing” and announced its readiness to confront such a punitive measure.
Following is the statement issued by the cabinet at the conclusion of its weekly meeting.
During its weekly meeting held in Ramallah today, the Palestinian Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Dr. Rami Hamdallah,
- Denounced the Israeli decision to deduct the allocations of Palestinian prisoners and martyrs families, which was approved by the "Israeli Knesset" in June and adopted by the Israeli Cabinet earlier this week. This punitive measure "is a continuation of enacting racist laws that support illegal Israeli occupation, undermine the two-state solution, and destroy peace prospects and aspirations to establish a sovereign, independent State of Palestine on the borders of 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital," the Cabinet stated. Cutting tax funds is "a direct violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and international treaties and the Interim Agreement signed in September 1995 between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). Therefore, this Israeli action is piracy of the Palestinian money and a clear international crime," the Cabinet added. The Cabinet considered the Israeli piracy of the Palestinian money a collective punishment that would initiate a catastrophic war against the Palestinian leadership and its nation, and would further restrict and blackmail the Palestinian Government, destroy it, and steal its ability to carry on providing services to its people and fulfill its commitments towards them. "Cutting money from our tax revenues puts the Palestinian economy in risk and threatens our abilities to ... pay the salaries and wages of our employees on time; yet, we will not trade our fundamental national rights for any political money. We are well-prepared for all possible scenarios if the Israeli government actually implements this illegal decision," the Cabinet stressed.
- Reiterated its support to the position of President Mahmoud Abbas, which confirms, "the welfare we provide to prisoners and martyrs families is a national responsibility and not a gift or a grant. It is an act of solidarity, social protection, and an integral part of the social contract between the State of Palestine and its citizens especially among the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements and the ongoing blockade over the Gaza Strip." The Cabinet said, "We will always stand with our prisoners and their victim families until they are freed and released from Israeli prisons unconditionally."
- Called upon the international community "to act immediately against these threats and force Israel, the Occupying Power, to stop using Palestinian funds as a tool of collective punishment." The Cabinet also called on Arab countries to "revive the Arab financial safety net to enable the Palestinian citizens to confront such punitive Israeli measures."
- Condemned the Israeli decision to block a suggested visit of representatives from the UN Security Council to the State of Palestine. The Cabinet stated, "Such acts constitute state terrorism and political bullying against an international body, with the support and protection of the Trump administration." In addition, the cabinet affirmed the incapacity of the State of Israel to be a member of the international system due to its daily disregard of the rules of international law, international humanitarian law, and human rights. Moreover, to the refusal to implement the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council 242, 338, and recent 2334. The cabinet stressed that "The natural place of Israel, the Occupying Power is outside of the international system for its organized terrorist practices against the Palestinian citizens, which impose a threat to the world peace and security
- Condemned the closure of the Al- Aqsa Mosque by the Israeli police forces and their systematic attacks on Palestinian worshipers as a part of the ongoing attempts of Israel, the Occupying Power, to change the historical status in Occupied Jerusalem and the Al- Aqsa Mosque. The Cabinet held the Israeli government fully responsible for the attacks on the Al-Aqsa Mosque and called on the international community, Arab, and Islamic countries to prevent such attacks and to provide immediate international protection for the Palestinian citizens and their sanctities. The Cabinet stressed, "The entire world must be aware that Israel, the Occupying Power, has no legal sovereignty over Occupied Jerusalem or its Islamic and Christian holy sites. We, therefore, totally reject all forms of Israeli violations against the Holy City and the Al-Aqsa Mosque."
- Condemned the Occupying Power for its campaign aimed at uprooting and displacing Palestinian citizens from their lands and houses in Masafer Yatta to seize the land and expand the surrounding settlements. In addition to that, the Cabinet denounced the Israeli Occupying forces (IOF) for cutting off water supplies to the communities of Masafer Yatta depriving the Palestinian citizens, including children, of the right to water. The Cabinet stressed, "This heinous crime constitutes a blatant violation of international law, international humanitarian law and human morals. It unveils the real face of the Occupying Power and disposes Netanyahu‘s claims that Israel promotes humanity, and uses its technological capabilities in helping the countries in need to reclaim their water resources." The Cabinet called upon local and international human rights institutions to expose these crimes to the whole world and to form an international lobbying body to compel the international community and its institutions to hold Israel, the Occupying Power, accountable and halt its ongoing crimes against the Palestinian citizens and their land.
- Hailed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by Prime Minister Dr. Rami Hamdallah on a grant agreement with the Japanese Ambassador to Palestine, Takashi Okubo, and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA). This grant agreement, worth of a $17 million, aims at implementing a project to improve the collection and transport system for solid waste management in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. This project also aims at expanding the waste collection service through providing 14 Joint Council with waste collection vehicles and heavy equipment that will contribute to improving the living environment, and protecting nature. The Cabinet expressed its deep appreciation to Japan for providing a new package of aid, reiterating that Japan is one of the most important donors to the Palestinian citizens.
- Welcomed the signing of an agreement between the Ministry of Public Works and Housing and the Islamic Development Bank to implement a series of infrastructure projects at a cost of $ 4.1 million, from the allocations of the Al-Aqsa and Jerusalem funds for the sixteenth phase under the supervision of the Islamic Development Bank. The Cabinet commended the support of Arab and Islamic funds, In line with the Palestinian Government plans to strengthen the resilience of its citizens and meet their needs. The Cabinet reaffirmed the need to strengthen cooperation with Arab neighboring countries in all sectors in order to support the work of the Palestinian Government and its efforts in achieving economic development. The Cabinet also noted that the total value of projects to be implemented in Palestine through Arab and Islamic funds this year would cost $55 million, for health, education, and infrastructure sectors.
- Condemned the brutal and vicious crime and terrorist attacks in Sinai that resulted in the death and wounding of 15 Egyptian soldiers serving the heroic Egyptian army. The Cabinet extended its warm condolences to the people of Egypt, the armed forces and the families of the martyrs, stressing the position of the Palestinian nation to stand with the Egyptian citizens and government.