Israel Warns Will Use PA Taxes to Pay for Gaza Power

Egyptian trucks carrying fuel enter Gaza’s power plant in Nusseirat, in the central Gaza Strip, in June. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Israel has proposed a solution to the ongoing power shortage in the Gaza Strip: If the Palestinian Authority continues to refuse to transfer funds to Hamas for electricity, Israel will deduct a corresponding amount in taxes it collects for the PA to cover the costs, The Times of Israel reported Thursday.

In a power struggle with Hamas, the PA has been withholding funds to pay the costs, causing what has been described as a “humanitarian crisis,” in which residents have been limited to as little as four hours of electricity a day.

Israel issued the warning in a July 17 letter seen by The Times. Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai told PA Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh Minister that supplies must be restored one way or another.

“I hereby inform you that if an internal Palestinian solution is not found, we will restore the previous situation and deduct the funds from the tax transfers in the near future,” Mordechai wrote.

“There are humanitarian red lines that, if crossed, pose the potential to harm, among others, the health and sanitation sectors [in Gaza] and ultimately the population at large.

“I request that you take action to resolve this matter so as to prevent the implementation of unilateral measures,” he said.

Under an economic agreement signed in 1994, Israel transfers to the Palestinian Authority tens of millions of dollars each month in customs duties levied on goods destined for Palestinian markets that pass through Israeli ports. Israel has imposed freezes on the transfer in the past, though the sanction has rarely lasted more than one or two months.