Humanitarian considerations, among others, were behind Israel's decision to renew the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority, a statement from the Prime Minister's Office claimed. The decision was lauded by the US, at a time when ties between Washington and Jerusalem were heavily strained.
It turns out now, however, that the decision stemmed from a tacit understanding between Israel and the Palestinians, that the PA would suspend its plans to appeal to the International Criminal Court in The Hague as of April 1 in return for Israel's release of the funds.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to renew the transfer of the tax revenues, which he froze in January, on the advice of defense establishment officials who warned of the possible collapse of the PA.
- Israel to stop withholding Palestinian tax revenues
- IDF warns: Freeze in Palestinian funds could fuel West Bank unrest
- Obama: We believe Netanyahu doesn't want a Palestinian state
Behind the scenes, however, according to sources in Jerusalem, the transfer of the funds was conditioned on the Palestinians maintaining their security coordination with Israel and, as aforementioned, refraining from filing claims against Israel at the court in The Hague.
A statement released on Sunday night by the office of senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat denied such an arrangement. And according to a Palestinian official involved in the PA's preparations to file complaints against Israel in The Hague, "The discussions never touched on a deal under which we would get the tax revenues back in return for forgoing The Hague."
The official added that the PA's preparations to appeal to the ICC in The Hague were going ahead unchanged, and that international and Palestinian legal experts were continuing to work on the cases. The official noted, however, that while the Palestinians were entitled to submit complaints to the ICC from April 1, they may not necessarily do so that same day.
"I believe that the complaints won't be submitted this Wednesday despite the fact that they are ready by now," the Palestinian official said. "We all agree that the right thing to do is to give the chief prosecutor at The Hague some time to work on the criminal investigation he has already begun."
PA officials believe Netanyahu's decision was designed only to boost his standing around the world.
"Netanyahu decided to return the tax revenues in order to look better in the eyes of the international community," the Palestinian official said.