Israel says no to Paris Protocol change

Sept. 10, 2012 at 7:16 AM
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JERUSALEM, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- Israel will reject a Palestinian request to amend the Paris Protocol that regulates economic ties between the two sides, Israel's deputy foreign minister said.

Danny Ayalon, speaking on Israel Radio Monday in response to a Palestinian bid to change the accords signed in 1994, said:

"I don't support opening the economic treaty to renegotiation [because] it is interconnected with the diplomatic ones, which as we know have not been signed because of the Palestinians.

"It is wrong to amend the economic agreement when there is no progress on the diplomatic front and at a time the Palestinians owe us major debts for fuel and energy."

On Sunday, Palestinian Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh said he had submitted a request on behalf of n President Mahmoud Abbas to reopen the Paris Protocol, Israel Radio said. Al-Sheikh said the current economic situation requires that changes be made to the agreement..

The Paris Protocol covers economic ties between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. It calls for the P.A. to establish a monetary authority to regulate and supervise banks, foreign currency, reserves and transactions.

It requires Palestinians to levy income tax on civilians, property and municipal taxes, with the Israeli shekel remaining the legal currency in Palestinian-controlled areas until an agreement is reached on Palestinian currency. It also set Israeli sea and airports and border crossings with Jordan and Egypt as paths for Palestinian trade with other countries.

Ayalon's statements came amid growing protests in the West Bank over the rising cost of living, and calls for Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to resign.

On Monday, a public transport strike affecting buses, taxis and trucks paralyzed communities in the West Bank, the Palestinian Ma'an News Agency reported. Nasser Younis, head of the West Bank public transport union said more than 24,000 drivers were striking.

Protests occurred in Bethlehem, Hebron and Nablus, the news agency said.

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