The Palestinian Authority (PA) refused to accept from Israel the May clearance revenues, last night said Hussein al-Sheikh, member of Fatah Central Committee and head of the Civil Affairs Authority, and accused Israel of extortion in order to deliver the money to the Palestinian treasury.
“We confirm that we have refused and will refuse to receive the clearance funds in accordance with the decision of the Palestinian leadership that we are absolved of all agreements and understandings with the government of Israel,” said al-Sheikh in a tweet without giving any explanation for the decision.
However, Palestinian government spokesman Ibrahim Milhem said this morning that the PA refused to accept the clearance revenues after Israel has insisted that the PA contact it through the coordinating office in order to make the transfer.
The PA ended on May 19 all ties and coordination with Israel in retaliation for the latter’s plan to annex a large area of the occupied West Bank and apply Israeli sovereignty to its illegal settlements.
Milhem said that Israel wanted to “extort” the PA to get it to break its decision regarding ending all coordination and therefore insisted on making the transfer only after the PA contact it through the defunct coordinating office.
The clearance fund, which is the tax revenues Israel collects on behalf of the PA on goods entering its ports and destined to the occupied territories and amounts to around $200 million every month, makes about 60 percent of the overall Palestinian revenues. Israel cuts 3 percent commission from the fund for handling this money in addition to some $60 million for services to the PA, such as purchase of electric current.
The Palestinian economy has also been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, which brought all economic activities to an almost total halt.
The World Bank said on Monday that an abrupt decline in economic activities and pressure on the PA’s finances have placed Palestinian livelihoods at high risks, as the impact of the coronavirus continues to hit the economy hard. After growth of a mere 1% in 2019, the economy is projected to contract by at least 7.6% in 2020, it said.