Ramallah: Palestinian public servants have not yet been paid their salaries, after Israel decided to withhold Palestinian tax revenues for the month of December. Israel unilaterally made the decision as a punative reaction to Palestinian application to the International Criminal Court.

On Sunday, Palestinians working for the public sector were expecting their salaries, but none came. What is stranger is that the salaries were supposed to arrive a week earlier as a presidential gift, but the Minister of Finance delayed the transfer suddenly.

“This shows that the salaries were ready but the government changed its mind at the last second,” Abu Saeed, a public worker from Nablus, told Gulf News. “This is strange,” he said.

The Palestinian Authority has asked the international community to put massive pressure on Israel to release the revenues, and have promised to hand in salaries by mid January, if Israel acquieses.

An official in the Palestinian Authority who did not want to be named said that the government could borrow from banks as an alternative option.

“Israel should know that salaries cannot be used as a tool to pressure Palestinians,” the official said.

A final step would be to pay salaries by taking the government’s own operational budget.

The PNA has about 160,000 public workers who are paid two billion US dollars annually.