Israel to Freeze $127m in Palestine Tax Revenues

Israel to Freeze $127m  in Palestine Tax RevenuesIsrael to Freeze $127m  in Palestine Tax Revenues

Israel plans to freeze the transfer of $127.6 million in tax revenues collected on behalf of the Palestinians, following Palestine’s attempt to join the International Criminal Court, a senior Israeli official has told Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

“The funds for the month of December were due to be transferred on Friday, but it was decided to half the transfer as part of the response to the Palestinian move,” the senior official said.

The tax revenues make up two-third of the Palestinian Authority’s annual budget, excluding foreign aid.

The unnamed official stressed that the Jewish state will not only defend against the Palestinians in the international arena, but “will also go on the offensive.”

Israel is also looking at ways to prosecute senior Palestinians for war crimes, in the United States and elsewhere, in response to the ICC bid, another official said, adding that Palestinian leaders “ought to fear legal steps” after their decision to sign onto the Rome Statute.

The Palestinians delivered to the UN headquarters in New York documents on joining the Rome Statute of the ICC and other global treaties, saying they hoped to achieve what they called “justice for all the victims that have been killed by Israel, the occupying power”.

The ICC looks at cases of severe war crimes and crimes against humanity such as genocide.

Israel has delayed payments to the Palestinians to signal its displeasure in the past, including in 2012 after the Palestinians won a November 29 UN vote recognizing Palestine as a non-member state.

It did it again in May 2011 after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced a reconciliation deal with Hamas aimed at ending years of enmity between the group and his Fatah, and in November 2011, after the Palestinians won admission to UNESCO.