US Opposes Israeli Freeze on PA Tax Revenues
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - The United States denounced a move by Israel to freeze the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in retaliation for their bid to join the International Criminal Court.
"We're opposed to any actions that raise tensions. And obviously, this is one that raises tensions," US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Monday.
Israel froze about $127m in tax revenue to the cash-strapped PA after it applied on Friday to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague.
US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the weekend and a US team has been in touch with Palestinian leaders, Al Jazeera reported.
"What we are trying to avoid here is a back and forth tit-for-tat," Psaki said.
"We call on both sides to avoid actions that raise tensions and make it more difficult to return to direct negotiations."
But she renewed US warnings that any move by the Palestinians to take action against Israeli officials and military leaders at the ICC could have "implications" for US aid to the Palestinian Authority.
"Congress has a great deal of power in that regard, and that has been historically true. They're obviously watching closely what happens," she told reporters.
It would seem that under a giant complex spending bill passed in December to fund the US budget through the fiscal year 2015, any move to haul Israel before the ICC and impose charges of war crimes would trigger a freeze on US aid to the Palestinians.
Psaki suggested that unlike in other foreign aid issues, US Secretary of State John Kerry would not have the power to waive the freeze.