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Palestinians refuse tax money from Israel, accusing it of ‘blackmail’

Tel Aviv/Ramallah
The cash-strapped Palestinian Authority (PA) has refused to accept the 200-million-dollar monthly tax revenues collected by Israel, accusing it of “blackmail.”
Its refusal to accept the money, announced on Wednesday night, means that the PA will not be able to pay its employees salaries for the month of May.
The PA’s government spokesman, Ibrahim Milhem, said on Thursday morning that Israel had demanded the PA contact it through the coordinating office if it wants the money transferred.
Since the PA has ended all contact with Israel, it refused to do so.
The Israeli Finance Ministry declined to comment on the matter.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in May declared an end to all agreements and understandings with Israel and the United States, in response to Israeli plans to annex settlements in the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank.
Previously, the money was sent at the end of every month through direct bank transfer without any coordination.
The PA, which is expected now to borrow money from local banks to pay salaries, hopes a third party, such as the United Nations, the World Bank or the European Union could intervene to get the money to the PA.
Last year, the PA for months refused all tax and customs money collected on its behalf by Israel, after Israel began to freeze a portion of the money, contesting its use to help the families of Palestinian attackers killed or jailed by Israel.
In October, the PA agreed to take the money again after reaching an agreement with Israel.