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Easier than taking candy from a baby

Maurice Hirsch, Adv.  |

While the Palestinian Authority positively refuses to accept an estimated 2.5 billion shekels (€610,111,437) in taxes that Israel is ready to transfer to it, the EU is again pandering to the PA tantrums and stepping in to pay the salaries of the health and education workers.

An EU press statement on Sept. 2, 2020 declared that the “The European Union has today provided a contribution of €9 million to the July salaries of health and education workers and the pensions of more than 37,500 Palestinian civil servants in the West Bank.” [Website of the Office of the European Union Representative (West Bank and Gaza Strip, UNRWA)]

On May 18, 2020, PA Chairman Abbas announced that the PA and the PLO no longer see themselves obligated by the accords the latter signed with Israel. Shortly thereafter, the PA began refusing the tax revenues that Israel collects and transfers every month to the PA as part of the agreements.

Statistics obtained exclusively by Palestinian Media Watch from Israel’s Ministry of Finance for the period of May through August 2020 inclusive, show that the PA is refusing to accept funds estimated to be 2.5 billion shekels (€610,111,437). The statistics show 1,902,839,671 shekels have already accrued from import duties and excise duties. An additional sum, for VAT returns, is unclear since the PA is refusing to cooperate with Israel and submit the necessary documentation. In the first four months of 2020, the VAT returns income was, on average, 170,000,000 shekels per month. Even if the income dropped  as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is still estimated to be in the region of 150,000,000 per month equaling 600,000,000 shekels for the four month period. The figures were obtained by PMW in response to a request pursuant to Israel’s Freedom of Information Act.

The EU press release added that since 2008, the EU has donated several billions of euros to both the PA and to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

This is not the first time the EU has stepped in and paid the salaries of the PA’s health and education workers. Last year, when the PA similarly refused to accept the tax monies and plunged the PA into a fake financial crisis, the EU also indulged the PA, making substantial contributions. In this context it is crucial to remember that money is fungible. This means that every time the EU pays the salaries of the PA’s health and education workers, the PA is then free to use its own money to pay the monthly salaries it pays to terrorists.

In this manner, the PA continues to milk the EU cow for additional contributions. The EU’s willful blindness to the actions of the PA, and willingness to pander to the tantrums of the PA, has taught the PA leadership that extracting money from the EU is easier than taking candy from a baby.

The following is the full text of the EU press release:

The European Union has today provided a contribution of €9 million to the July salaries of health and education workers and the pensions of more than 37,500 Palestinian civil servants in the West Bank.

This support will enable the Palestinian Authority to pay Palestinian civil servants notwithstanding the difficult fiscal situation brought about by the COVID-19 crisis and recent political developments. In the context of the Team Europe approach, the EU has frontloaded its financial contribution to support the PA in ensuring the uninterrupted continuation of critical public services.

"This new contribution comes as the Palestinian Authority is struggling to pay salaries and pensions and to maintain the delivery of public services to its people.  The fiscal situation of the Palestinian Authority is over-stretched and clearly unsustainable without the acceptance of transfers of the tax revenues collected by Israel. Those revenues are Palestinian and should be transferred and accepted irrespective of political tensions. If no solution can be found the entire system may collapse. Instability or chaos are not in the interest of any side. We need a breakthrough so that hope can be restored and trust be rebuilt“ said EU Representative Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff.

Background

Since 2008, most of the European Union's assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA) is channelled through the PEGASE Direct Financial Support, supporting the PA reform process and various national development plans, currently the National Policy Agenda (NPA) 2017-2022. PEGASE supports the PA’s recurrent expenditures, mainly the salaries and pensions of civil servants, the social allowances paid through the cash transfer programme and part of the costs of referrals to the East Jerusalem Hospitals.

Since February 2008, over €2.8 billion were disbursed through PEGASE by the European Commission and various development partners, namely EU Member States. In addition, the EU provides assistance to the Palestinian people through UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, as well as through a wide range of other cooperation projects. The European Joint Strategy 2017-2020 builds the basis/framework for this engagement and provides a joint EU response to the NPA priorities, including major reforms and development programmes implemented by key ministries in preparation for statehood.

[https://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/palestine-occupied-palestinian-territory-west-bank-and-gaza-strip/84660/new-eu-contribution-%E2%82%AC9-million-payment-july-salaries-and-pensions-palestinian-civil-servants_en]