Greater Middle East (bbabo.net), - The Palestinian Authority (PA) intends to accept Palestinian tax funds that will be transferred by Israel, even though part of it intended for Gaza will be withheld and transferred to Norway for safekeeping , an unnamed informed source told Al-Sharq al-Awsat.
The publication also notes that the PA responded to the intervention of the United States and other mediators, who urgently offered to “get the missing funds now.”
The Al-Sharq al-Awsat source also said the United States had committed to working to resolve the issue of withheld funds “at a later date.” What this means is that in Gaza there must first be a transfer of power from Hamas to the PA, and Israel, in turn, will receive assurances that the fate of this money will no longer be in the hands of an “extremist movement.” The PA makes it clear that Hamas must no longer use Gaza's financial resources to fight against Israel.
As is known, the Palestinian Authority initially rejected the Israeli plan to transfer funds, considering it “incomplete and conditional.” However, according to Al-Sharq al-Awsat, after strong pressure from Washington, and also considering that the plan was the result of difficult efforts by Washington, which led to some tension with Israel, the PA retreated.
Israel transfers about 900 million shekels a month (just over $240 million) to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank under a clause in the Oslo agreement under which Israel's Finance Ministry collects taxes on behalf of the Palestinians. These funds account for up to 65% of the PA's annual budget. Gaza's share is 275 million shekels or $74 million.
The PA plans to use the money received from Israel to pay salaries to its employees in the West Bank, pensions in Gaza and monthly benefits to immigrant families. The administration also informed the United States that it would not end its commitment to Gaza under any circumstances because it was “a political issue related to the unity of the Palestinian territory and the existence of a single authority.”
The Palestinian Authority has not officially announced that it has agreed to receive tax funds that will be transferred by Israel, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat emphasizes.
Israel's "mini-cabinet" for security and political affairs approved on Sunday, January 21, the transfer of tax funds to the Palestinian Authority on the condition that the equivalent of funds intended for the Gaza Strip be deposited in a third country, Norway. The main condition of this procedure is that Gaza’s money cannot be transferred to the PA, as it is emphasized, even “on loan.”
The Israeli ministers agreed that if the agreement was violated, then Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich would have the right to stop transferring the rest of the funds to the Palestinian Authority, and further decisions on the allocation of funds would be in his hands.
The White House has expressed concerns that the PA's financial collapse will lead to an escalation of violence in the West Bank as a result of the Palestinian Authority's inability to pay salaries to its security forces.
PLO Executive Committee Secretary-General Hussein al-Sheikh, commenting on Israel's decision, said: "We call on the international community to stop this act based on piracy, stealing the money of the Palestinian people and forcing Israel to transfer all our money."
Accepting funds from Israel will help alleviate the financial crisis from which the PA has been suffering for about two years, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat notes.