Kuwait: Many in UN oppose Israel action on Palestinian taxes

A man helps a wounded youth, who was shot by Israeli troops during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, into the treatment room of Shifa hospital in Gaza City on March 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Updated 09 March 2019

Kuwait: Many in UN oppose Israel action on Palestinian taxes

  • Israel deducts money that Palestinians transfer to the families of people killed, injured or imprisoned for attacks on Israel from their monthly tax revenue
  • Kuwait’s UN ambassador says Israel’s action was “in violation of existing bilateral agreements”

UNITED NATIONS: An “overwhelming” number of UN Security Council members oppose Israel’s decision to deduct money that Palestinians transfer to the families of people killed, injured or imprisoned for attacks on Israel from their monthly tax revenue, Kuwait’s UN ambassador said Friday.
Mansour Al-Otaibi told reporters after a closed-door council meeting that Israel’s action was “in violation of existing bilateral agreements.”
US Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt came to New York from Washington to defend close ally Israel.
He told the council that the Palestinian Authority’s decision to reject the latest tax transfer was only hurting the Palestinian people because they were rejecting the 95 percent of the tax revenue that Israel is not withholding, according to a diplomat at the meeting.
Greenblatt said it was “inappropriate” to focus on Israel, which was withholding 5 percent to 7 percent of the monthly tax revenue because of the Palestinian Authority’s “abhorrent practice” of paying that money “to terrorists and their families,” the diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity because discussions were private.
“The Palestinian Authority is refusing to accept over $150 million in revenue to protest the fact that $11 million is being withheld, only to make a political point,” the diplomat quoted Greenblatt as saying. “Does that sound like a governing authority that is concerned with the welfare of its people?“
Kuwait’s Mansour, who called for the Security Council consultations along with Indonesia’s UN Ambassador Dian Djani, said the Palestinians “have the right ... to do whatever they want with their money.”
He said UN Mideast envoy Nikolay Mladenov, who briefed the council by video, said “there is a need for mediation on this to solve it.”
Mansour said an “overwhelming” number of members on the 15-nation Security Council “think that this is a unilateral decision, it’s not acceptable, it’s a violation of the Oslo agreement and Paris protocol, and this is Palestinian money.”
Indonesia’s Djani said Israel’s suspension of international observers in Hebron coupled with the withholding tax revenue were making things “more and more difficult once again for the Palestinian people — so that’s why we are raising this issue, because we don’t want to continue to escalate an issue.”
The diplomat said Greenblatt told the council that members who disagree with Israel’s decision to withhold the customs revenues were free to discuss it with the Israeli government.
But in the meantime, the diplomat said, Greenblatt asked the Security Council to send a united message to the Palestinian Authority to stop “its irresponsible decision to reject the transfer of the remaining funds.”


Suspected arson at East Jerusalem mosque

Israeli border policemen take up position during clashes with Palestinian demonstrators at a protest against Trump's decision on Jerusalem, near Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank March 9, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 25 January 2020

Suspected arson at East Jerusalem mosque

  • The attack had the appearance of a “price tag” attack, a euphemism for Jewish nationalist-motivated hate crimes that generally target Palestinian or Arab Israeli property

JERUSALEM: Israeli police launched a manhunt on Friday after an apparent arson attack, accompanied by Hebrew-language graffiti, at a mosque in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem.
“Police were summoned to a mosque in Beit Safafa, in Jerusalem, following a report of arson in one of the building’s rooms and spraying of graffiti on a nearby wall outside the building,” a police statement said.
“A wide-scale search is taking place in Jerusalem,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP. “We believe that the incident took place overnight. We are searching for suspects.”
The spokesman would not say if police viewed it as a hate crime. The graffiti, on a wall in the mosque compound and viewed by an AFP journalist, contained the name Kumi Ori, a small settlement outpost in the north of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
The Times of Israel newspaper said on Friday that the wildcat outpost “is home to seven families along with roughly a dozen extremist Israeli teens.”
“Earlier this month security forces razed a pair of illegally built settler homes in the outpost,” it reported.
All settlements on occupied Palestinian land are considered illegal under international law, but Israel distinguishes between those it has approved and those it has not.
The paper said: “A number of young settlers living there were involved in a string of violent attacks on Palestinians and (Israeli) security forces.”
Police said that nobody was injured in the mosque incident.
The attack had the appearance of a “price tag” attack, a euphemism for Jewish nationalist-motivated hate crimes that generally target Palestinian or Arab Israeli property in revenge for nationalistic attacks against Israelis or Israeli government moves against unauthorized outposts like Kumi Ori.
“This is price tag,” Israeli Arab lawmaker Osama Saadi told AFP at the scene.
“The settlers didn’t only write words, they also burned the place and they burnt a Qur’an,” said Saadi, who lives in the area.
Ismail Awwad, the local mayor, said he called the police after he found apparent evidence of arson, pointing to an empty can he said had contained petrol or some other accelerant and scorch marks in the burned room.
“The fire in the mosque burned in many straight lines which is a sign that somebody poured inflammable material,” he said.
There was damage to an interior prayer room but the building’s structure was unharmed.
In December, more than 160 cars were vandalized in the Shuafaat neighborhood of east Jerusalem with anti-Arab slogans scrawled nearby.
The slogans read “Arabs=enemies,” “There is no room in the country for enemies” and “When Jews are stabbed we aren’t silent.”
The attackers were described by a local resident as “masked settlers.”