EU criticises Israel on Palestinian tax freeze

AFP , Tuesday 6 Jan 2015

The EU criticised Tuesday Israel's decision to freeze Palestinian Authority tax revenues in retaliation for joining the International Criminal Court and called on both sides to avoid steps that could undermine peace efforts.

The tax freeze "runs counter to Israel's obligations," agreed in 1994 following the Oslo peace accords, European Union foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini said.

"An effective Palestinian Authority, committed to non-violence and a peaceful resolution of the conflict, is a key element for a two-state solution," Mogherini said in a statement.

She added that the EU was a major source of financial assistance for the Palestinian Authority that has helped to develop the beleaguered economy.

Those achievements could be at risk by Israel "not meeting obligations regarding the timely and transparent transfer of tax and custom revenues."

Without directly mentioning the Palestinian bid to join the ICC, Mogherini said that "recent steps taken ... could aggravate the already tense situation on the ground and bring them further away from a negotiated solution."

"Both sides should refrain from taking actions which could raise obstacles to the rapid return to the negotiations," she added.

The United States has similarly condemned the Israeli tax freeze but also cautioned that any action taken by the Palestinian Authority at the ICC against Israeli figures would have "implications."

Israel froze some $127 million in tax revenue due to the Palestinian Authority after it applied on Friday to join the ICC, the world's only permanent war crimes court, at The Hague.

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