By holding part of the tax revenues, Israel will be adding strain to Palestinian budget, says finance minister

RAMALLAH, Minister of Finance and Planning Shukri Bishara said Thursday that despite the strains on the budget the Israeli decision to hold part of the Palestinian tax revenues will cause, the government will nevertheless continue to pay the families of the Palestinians killed or injured by Israel and the prisoners, regardless of the repercussions.

“This decision will increase the financial burden and raise the budget deficit, he told WAFA, adding that the Palestinian society as a whole must face this challenge because it is an ethical and moral obligation to our sons and daughters and their families.”

Bishara stressed that it is the responsibility of the state and the nation to take care of our sons and daughters when they are illegally held in Israeli jails. We are committed not to turn our backs on them, but rather to embrace them. Let them cut whatever they want. We will not abandon our responsibility.”

The Finance Minister said Israel gave itself the legal right to cut the money after passing a law on this matter in its parliament.

“There are about 6,500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails at the moment. We are committed to caring for their families and some we are obliged to educate them and provide them with health services, even after their release,” he said.

Since 1967, added Bishara, about 1 million Palestinians were imprisoned by Israel, 60% of them between the ages of 18 and 25. Incarceration in Israeli jails is a unique matter for the Palestinians as a result of a 50-year occupation.”

The average financial allocation to the families is about $28 million a month (about $300 million annually).

“It is true that the amount is not easy on the budget, but we have a not so small a number of prisoners, too. We are obliged to educate them and provide them with medical care for free and to take care of their families because they were illegally arrested by an occupying power,” said Bishara. They are not the reason for the war and the conflict, but rather victims of half a century of unjust and illegal occupation.”

Bishara considered the Israeli decision an attempt to compensate for the failure of Israelis in their legal claims against the Palestinian government and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in US courts, which were completely dropped last year after years of litigation.

“This matter is spearheaded by a certain group in Israel, who tried to blackmail us by filing legal suit against us in US courts, but found that going through the courts is not working, because our defense was distinctive and effective. So they realized that it will be possible to obtain ‘legal means’ to seize some money from our tax revenues, which is money paid by the Palestinian public, by working through the Israeli government,” said the Finance Minister.

Source: Palestinian News & Info Agency