UNITED NATIONS – The UN political chief warned on Monday that the worsening Palestinian financial crisis posed a growing risk "of a financial collapse of the Palestinian Authority."
Rosemary DiCarlo told the UN Security Council that "a sustainable resolution" to the funding crisis of authority is urgently needed.
Israel is holding back about $ 11 million from about $ 180 million a month in tax funds it collects for Palestinians, claiming the money was being used to support families of terrorists. The Palestinians, in protest, refused to accept any transfer of taxes.
"Israel's call for retention of Palestinian tax revenue is blatant robbery, breaching bilateral agreements and a ban on the Geneva Convention from stealing the resources of the occupied people," said Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the UN , to the board.
Without the funds, the Palestinian Authority halved most of the workers' wages since March, although salaries are raised to 60% this month because of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Lower-paid employees, who earn less than $ 600 a month, continue to receive full pay, but most civil servants have higher wages.
DiCarlo called on both sides to address the underlying causes of the financial crisis, implement their bilateral agreements and avoid actions that compromise security and stability for both Palestinians and Israelis.
She also called on the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, which coordinates Palestinian development aid, to use its meeting in Brussels on Tuesday to work with Israel and the Palestinian Authority to resolve the crisis.
In addition to tax revenue, the Trump government has cut hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for the Palestinians.
Last month the head of the UN agency that helped 5.3 million Palestinian refugees called for equal generosity from donors who filled a $ 446 million budget hole last year after the US drastically reduced its contribution.
Pierre Krahenbuhl said donors funded the UN Relief and Works Agency's $ 1.2 billion budget for 2018 after the US reduced its contribution from $ 360 million in 2017 to just $ 60 million.
He said the UN agency also adopted a budget of $ 1.2 billion for 2019, and this year is receiving nothing from the United States.
US President Donald Trump said in January 2018 that Palestinians should return to peace talks to receive US aid money.
Writer Josef Federman of the Associated Press in Jerusalem contributed to this report.
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