World Bulletin/News Desk
The United Nations urged Israel on Thursday to stop withholding tax revenues belonging to Palestinians.
A senior official from the UN's political affairs office said the Israeli freeze of millions of dollars in tax revenues collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority violates the Paris Protocol of the Oslo Accords – a 1994 deal forming the basis of the economic relations between the two parties.
The Israeli government on Jan. 3 blocked the transfer of approximately $125 million in tax revenues owed to the Palestinian Authority in retaliation of its decision to join the International Criminal Court, or ICC, to pursue war crimes charges.
"We call on Israel to immediately resume the transfer of tax revenues," Assistant Secretary-General Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen told the UN Security Council.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas signed the Rome Statute -- the treaty establishing the basis of the Hague-based court – Dec. 31, following the Council's rejection of a draft resolution that called for an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories within three years.
The UN said Palestine will become party to the treaty April 1. The ICC is a court of last resort to prosecute the most heinous offenses in cases where national courts fail.
Toyberg-Frandzen also said the parties were "now engaged in a downward spiral of actions and counter-actions" and called on both sides to refrain from any actions that would increase existing divisions.
"While the parties are ultimately responsible, the international community must uphold its responsibility to play an active role in shepherding an effective way forward towards the two-state solution and lasting peace," he said, referring to the UN-proposed solution that calls for an independent state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel.
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