Palestinians snub tax handover by Israel over annexation plan

Palestinians, some clad in masks due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, gather for a protest against Israeli plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, in the West Bank city of Nablus on June 3, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 03 June 2020

Palestinians snub tax handover by Israel over annexation plan

  • The taxes make up over half of the budget of the Palestinian Authority

RAMALLAH: The Palestinians said on Wednesday they were rejecting taxes collected on their behalf by Israel, an escalation of measures in protest of Israel’s plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.
The taxes, managed by Israel under 1990s accords, make up over half of the budget of the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinians snubbed the handovers for several months last year after Israel trimmed the cash in retaliation for their funding for the families of jailed or slain militants.
With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu having last month secured a new government, and annexing the West Bank’s Jewish settlements and Jordan Valley on the agenda, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has declared bilateral deals null.
Ibrahim Melhem, spokesman for the Palestinian government, said in a statement that it had rejected the May tax levies “in compliance with the leadership decision to stop all forms of coordination with Israel.”
Israel’s Finance Ministry declined comment.
It was not immediately clear how the PA, its economy already hit hard by the coronavirus crisis, could function should it continue doing without the around $190 million in monthly taxes.
Abbas previously said his security forces would stop helping Israel stem violence in the West Bank, among territories where the Palestinians, with international support, seek statehood.
Abbas’ peace talks with Israel stalled in 2014 and he is boycotting the Trump administration for perceived bias. Israel and the United States appear to prefer to see the PA stay afloat rather than West Bank Palestinians revert to full Israeli rule.


UAE to complete more than two million COVID-19 tests in two months

Updated 6 min 26 sec ago

UAE to complete more than two million COVID-19 tests in two months

  • The UAE has recorded 528 new cases of the virus on Monday, bringing total infections to 52,068
  • An offficial said it was important to expand testing across the country for early detection and treatment

DUBAI: The UAE has announced its plan to conduct more than two million COVID-19 tests in the next to months, as part of the country’s extensive campaign to curb the spread of the virus.

Emirati spokesperson Dr. Amna Al-Dahhak Al-Shamsi said it was important to expand testing across the country for early detection and treatment.

Al-Shamsi said the government was working with all health institutions in the country to see the plan through, which includes mass testing of public-facing workers in both public and private sectors such as taxi drivers, hospitality workers, and those working in retail.

The UAE has recorded 528 new cases of the virus on Monday, bringing total infections to 52,068.

The spokesperson noted the increase of cases during the last weekend, and said it was due to negligence of people. She said irresponsible behavior could lead to the undoing of the country’s successes in fighting the pandemic.

She urged the public to fully comply with instructions issued by relevant authorities.

Meanwhile, the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) in Dubai said the return of flights to the city’s airports was a necessary move to support the hard-hit aviation sector.

GDRFA’s Director-General Mohammed Ahmed Al-Marri said the decision to allow flights was going to “herald a new phase of supporting economic activities” in the country.

There has been an increase in the number of passengers visiting Dubai since the lockdown was lifted, Deputy Director-General of Airports Affairs Talal Ahmed Al-Shanqeeti said, adding it represented a positive boost in the tourism sector.