JERUSALEM, The European Union Wednesday denied suggesting cutting or suspending financial aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA).
The EU denied that it has given the PA an ultimatum to accept the tax revenues collected by Israel on its behalf or lose EU aid.
“The EU with its Member States is and continues to be the largest international financial supporter of Palestinians. The EU is a firm supporter of the Palestinian Authority,” the EU statement said.
“The EU and many partners in the international community have encouraged the Palestinians to again accept the transfers of their own tax revenues as it is their money. There has never been a suggestion of cutting or suspending funds for the Palestinian Authority,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, Palestinian government spokesman Ibrahim Milhem also denied that the EU gave the PA such an ultimatum.
“The tax clearance funds, which Israel is withholding as a means to blackmail us, are ours,” he stressed in a press statement.
He added that: “The Palestinian-EU relations are based on the spirit of cooperation, partnership and respect for international law, which the EU is keen to sponsor and implement, and have never been conditional on any political demand, whether made by the EU or any of its Member States bilaterally.”
The alleged ultimatum was based on news report that appeared in Axios news website on Wednesday.
The website said that since Israel’s planned annexation move was suspended last month following the recent UAE-Israeli normalization deal, the EU has decided it is time for the PA to come back to the table and accept the tax revenue and coordination efforts.
It reported EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell calling PA President Mahmoud Abbas and telling him that the EU would not offer financial assistance or loans until the PA accepts the taxes. Jordan and Egypt have made similar demands, according to the news site.
The website added that Borrell also urged Abbas to resume security and civilian coordination with Israel, but Abbas was “noncommittal”.
Contrary to the website claims that the UAE-Israeli normalization agreement stipulated staving off Israel’s illegal annexation move, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed his commitment to the annexation plan.
Since May, the PA has refused to accept through coordination some $190 million a month in tax revenues collected by Israel on its behalf in protest against Israel illegal annexation move, which plunged the PA into a financial crisis and obliged it to obtain bank loans to cover since June only 50 percent of the civil servants’ salaries.
Source: Palestinian News & Info Agency