UN Tells Israel to Unlock Palestinian Tax Payment

UN Tells Israel to Unlock Palestinian Tax PaymentUN Tells Israel to Unlock Palestinian Tax Payment

The United Nations has called on Israel to resume the transfer of tax revenue to the Palestinian Authority, which it withheld in retaliation following Palestinian efforts to join the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“We call on Israel to immediately resume the transfer of tax revenues. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is now entering unchartered territory, which, lamentably, seems to have dashed any immediate hope for a return to peace talks,” UN deputy political affairs chief Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen told the UN Security Council on Thursday, RT reported.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is concerned that the Israelis and Palestinians are locked into a revengeful exchange of actions which are making existing divisions worse and peace impossible to achieve, according to a senior UN official.

The latest downward spiral comes after the Israelis withheld crucial tax revenue from the Palestinians, in retaliation for Palestinian attempts to the join the ICC.

Earlier Thursday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas asked the Arab League during a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo to give him $100 million a month as a safety net to cover the withheld tax revenues.

The ICC bid was part of Abbas’ wider plan of trying to bring international pressure to Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu froze $120 million in taxes that it collects in the occupied territories, which forced the Palestinian Authority to stop paying 153,000 employees.

  Bloody Year

Last year was the deadliest ever for journalists working in the Palestinian territories, a Gaza-based watchdog announced, months after a bloody war in the besieged enclave.

“2014 was a black year for freedom of the press in Palestine... and it was the worst and bloodiest,” the Gaza Center for Press Freedom said in its annual report. It accused Israel of committing 295 separate “violations of press freedom” across the occupied Palestinian territories.

These resulted in the deaths of 17 journalists during the 50-day Gaza war in July-August.

Israel also arrested or detained an unspecified number of journalists, denied freedom of movement to local media workers wanting to leave the blockaded Gaza Strip, and partially or completely destroyed 19 buildings housing editorial operations during its bombardment of the territory during the conflict, according to the report.

The conflict between Israel and Palestinian resistance group Hamas in the densely-populated Gaza, home to 1.8 million people, killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians.