Conflict & Justice

After UNESCO, Israel suspends Palestinians' tax payments (VIDEO)


A Palestinian worker cleans the Tree of Life mosaic inside one of the rooms at the ancient Hisham Palace in the West Bank city of Jericho on December 2, 2010.


Marco Longari

Israel suspended its transfer of tax payments totaling about $100 million to the Palestinians in protest of a move by the UN cultural agency to accept Palestine as a member, Israeli and Palestinian officials said Thursday. The Palestinians responding by urging the UN Security Council to take action.

Israel collects about $100 million in customs, border and some income taxes each month that it then transfers to the Palestinians' government in the West Bank, the Associated Press reports.

An Israeli official told the AP that a "temporary hold" has been put on the money transfer.  Palestinian officials likewise said they have not received November's transfer of funds, which usually comes in the beginning of the month.

Israel's move is being seen as a protest against the decision by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to accept Palestine as a member. The Palestinians have been seeking various avenues to being recognized as a nation.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sought full statehood recognition of Palestine at the UN Security Council in New York a month ago. The Security Council will vote in November, but the United States has already announced that it will veto the move.

The Palestinians responded to Israel's move concerning tax payments as well as additional housing units in East Jerusalem by pressing the UN Security Council to take action against the country, another article in AP states.

"Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian UN observer, warned that if Israel's actions aren't stopped immediately, the volatile region's tense situation might deteriorate," it states.

The United States announced Monday that it is cutting off its funding for UNESCO as a result of the vote on the Palestinians. The US State Department said Monday that the Obama administration will not make its planned $60 million payment to UNESCO due in November, the Washington Post reports. The United States provided the organization about $80 million a year, or 22 percent of its budget.

The United States is not legally allowed to provide funds to any UN agency that recognizes a Palestinian state.

Read more from GlobalPost: US cuts funding after Palestine vote