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7 Jan, 2015 01:25

Israel’s Palestinian tax move violates Oslo Accords – EU foreign policy chief

Israel’s Palestinian tax move violates Oslo Accords – EU foreign policy chief

The EU's foreign policy chief called Israel’s move to freeze the transfer of Palestinian tax revenues a violation of the Oslo Accords, urging the nation to renew the payments. She advised both sides to refrain from steps that might escalate the situation.

READ MORE: Israel may file war crimes suit, freeze $127mn in tax funds over Palestine’s ICC push

“The decision of the Israeli government to halt the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority runs counter to Israel’s obligations under the Paris Protocol (the economic part of the Oslo Accords),” the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, Federica Mogherini, said in a statement published on Tuesday.

The EU official was referring to a part of the set of agreements between the Israeli government and the Palestine Liberation Organization aimed at achieving a peace treaty between the sides. The Protocol on Economic Relations was signed in Paris in 1994 as part of the Gaza–Jericho Agreement, and has since been applied to all the Palestinian Territories within the Oslo II deal.

Mogherini pointed out that “an effective Palestinian Authority, committed to non-violence and a peaceful resolution of the conflict” is central for a two-state solution. “Both sides should refrain from taking actions which could raise obstacles to the rapid return to the negotiations.”

She further stressed that Europe has been providing support to the Palestinians, warning that its efforts should not be jeopardized by failing to transfer the tax revenue funds.

“EU is providing considerable support, including financial assistance, to ensure the building of the institutions and infrastructure of a future Palestinian State. These achievements should not be put at risk by not meeting obligations regarding the timely and transparent transfer of tax and custom revenues.”

The official’s statement made no mention of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signing the Rome Statute – the founding treaty to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) – as part of the recent Palestinian bid to join the ICC at The Hague.

Reuters / Shannon Stapleton

READ MORE: 'No more waiting': Palestinian president signs Rome Statute to join ICC

If Palestine became party to it, the ICC would have a free hand in assessing all alleged war crimes committed on Palestinian territory.

Meanwhile, in December the UN Security Council failed to adopt the Arab coalition’s bid calling for the creation of a Palestinian state and an end to Israeli “occupation.”

The veto powers of the US and Australia voted against the move with five abstentions. Meanwhile, the eight votes in favor included France, Russia, and China.

READ MORE: Palestinian statehood bid fails at UN Security Council as US, Australia vote against

France also spoke out on Tuesday, trying to prevent the situation from escalating, following a statement by Abbas that he will resubmit a resolution to the UN Security Council for the creation of a Palestinian state.

“We are against the logic of letting this spiral [out of control],” Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters. “While we think the Palestinians have the right to move the status quo, at the same time there has to be an effort to find a consensus solution. Once you set this cycle off, you get results that you don’t want one way or another.”

Israel’s move to freeze the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority was also criticized by the US on Monday.

“We conveyed to the Israelis that freezing the tax revenues is an action that raises tensions,” US State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters. “We oppose to any actions that raise tensions and we call on both sides to avoid it.”