The tax money – around $175 million every month – makes up two thirds of overall Palestinian monthly revenues.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday threatened to resort to the International Criminal Court if Israel does not release Palestinian tax funds.
Addressing a meeting of the central committee of his Fatah faction, Abbas said the Palestinians would try to solve the issue of withheld tax money in the light of the Oslo Accord.
“If not, we will resort to the ICC to get our tax money,” Abbas said, referring to the court.
He did not mention, however, how the issue would be resolved through the Oslo Accord, which was signed by Israel and the Palestinian Authority in 1993.
Israel has been withheld tax money it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority for three months.
The funds – around $175 million every month – makes up two-thirds of overall Palestinian monthly revenues.
Earlier Wednesday, Palestine officially joined the ICC after The Hague-based tribunal approved its accession bid.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki received written notification from the ICC that Palestine had been accepted as a full member, according to a TV report.
ICC spokesman Fadi al-Abdallah told The Anadolu Agency that Palestine had become the court’s 123rd member state.
Palestine officially joined the Rome Statute on Wednesday, an automatic procedure after the passage of two months since the Ramallah-based PA filed its membership request with the UN, al-Abdallah said.
According to the spokesman, the PA can now request to have Israeli leaders referred to the court for alleged war crimes committed on Palestinian territory.
Palestinians, too, can be prosecuted by the court, as ICC prosecutors are mandated with identifying suspects.
But in Washington, a State Department official reiterated Washington’s position that the Palestinians are not “eligible to accede to the Rome Statute and join the International Criminal Court.”
“We have also made clear that we oppose actions against Israel at the ICC as counterproductive,” the official said.
In January, Palestinians formally delivered the UN papers ratifying the Rome Statute – the legal document establishing the court – with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon acting as “depository.”
The move came after an Arab draft resolution at the UN General Assembly seeking a deadline for ending Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories failed to win the nine votes needed to pass, with the U.S. – Israel’s longstanding, veto-wielding ally – voting against it.
Hours later, PA President Mahmoud Abbas applied for Palestinian membership in 18 international treaties, including the Rome Statute.
The ICC was established in 1998 as a court of last resort to prosecute the most heinous offenses – such as war crimes and crimes against humanity – in cases where national court systems had failed.