The
undersigned human rights organizations and Palestinian non-governmental Organization
(PNGO) undersigning this statement reviewed a hard copy stamped by the
Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) of the bill no. (  ) of 2015, on organizing the general budget
and financial affairs. Since the establishment of the Palestinian National
Authority, this bill unprecedentedly imposes a new tax called "National
Solidarity Tax".

The
4-article bill stipulates that the Ministry of Finance is the authority to
collect the revenues from 01 April – 31 December 2015 and that the Minister of
Finance or his deputy imposes the National Solidarity Tax during the
abovementioned period without affecting any other taxes imposed by any other
law. Article 2 of the bill determines the rates of the tax as not exceeding 10%
of commodities entered to the southern governorates, 10% of services in and out
of the southern governorates, 100% of
tobacco and its
derivatives and 10% on public shareholding companies whose net profit exceed a
USD million per annum. This bill would enter into the force on the date of issuance
not from the date of its publication in the official gazette.


As it is clear from the preamble, the bill is based on
article 90 of the amended Palestinian Basic Law of 2003, Law no. 7/1998 on
Organizing the General Budget and Financial Affairs, article 74 of the PLC Rule
of Procedure and what was approved by the PLC in its session on 11 February
2015.


The undersigned organizations remind of and stress their
solid position towards the passing of legislations by the Change and Reform
Bloc on behalf of the PLC on the one hand and President’s issuance of decrees
with the power of law under the pretext that PLC cannot convene on the other
hand. These measures undermine any steps and efforts aiming to build a unified
legal system that the Palestinian Authority has worked on achieving since 1994.
These measures would establish two different legal and financial systems in the
West Bank and Gaza Strip.


Therefore,
the undersigned organizations emphasize the following:


  1. The
    legislative power of any elected legislature is not an absolute power, and
    the jurisprudence around the world has imposed a number of conditions and
    restrictions on practicing the power of legislation, particularly the
    importance of having harmony between any legislation and a clearly defined
    legislative policy and the need to study its implications on the society
    in a way that avoids its negative effects and financial burdens on citizens.
  2. The
    bill lacks clear justifications, and its application will seriously affect
    all the categories of society, particularly poor people.  This bill will negatively affect their
    enjoyment of their rights guaranteed under the Palestinian Basic Law and
    all international instruments and conventions. These taxes imposed on many
    basic commodities overburden Palestinian citizens, who already suffer from
    the deterioration of
    living standards and degradation of the social and economic conditions due
    to many reasons, including the Israeli closure that has been imposed on
    the Gaza Strip for eight consecutive years.
  3. Enacting
    this law and imposing this bill by the "Change and Reform" bloc
    affiliated with Hamas is a step to enhance the internal division,
    especially as a national unity government is currently in office.
  4. It
    is important and a must to hold community-based discussions before the
    legislature issues a new legislation. 
    This is a very significant step when imposing new taxes or raising
    the value of taxes imposed on the Palestinian citizens and consumers.
  5. Limiting
    the application of the bill to a certain period and taxes to specific
    percentages are not sufficient reasons to make the bill acceptable.

In
light of the above, the undersigned organizations and PNGO:

· Call for withdrawing of the bill and
retroactively  handling any of its effects;

· Call upon the Change and Reform bloc
to passing laws using its de facto force in Gaza on behalf of the PLC, call
upon the Palestinian President to stop issuing presidential decrees under the
internal division, and emphasize the importance of convening the PLC in order
to get out of the current legislative crisis which has been persistent since
the beginning of the division.

· Call upon the national unity
government to deal with the crises rocking the Gaza Strip, especially finding a
just and solution of the Gaza Strip employees’ salaries according to the law
and quickly incorporating employees, and call for enabling the government to
carry out its duties. 

 

Palestinian NGO’s Network
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
Al Dameer Association for Human Rights