Abbas. USD 100 mil
Olmert, Rice. Fulfilling commitments
Photo: Moshe Milner, GPO
On Thursday that USD 100 million of the Palestinian tax funds withheld by Israel are expected to be transferred in the coming day to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
The money will be transferred to the Palestinian Authority according to agreements reached by Abbas and Olmert during their meeting in Jerusalem a few weeks ago.
The money that will be transferred to the Authority will be taken from the Palestinian tax funds frozen by Israel ever since the Hamas government came to power one year ago.
The prime minister's office clarified that the money would only be transferred after the Palestinians guarantee a system that would prevent the money from reaching the Hamas government.
According to the plan, the money transferred by Israel to the Palestinian Authority is to be used for two purposes: Strengthening Abbas' presidential guard, and funding humanitarian needs, which will be decided by the president's office.
Part of the money will also go towards strengthen the presidential guard according to the Daton Plan, which states that the money cannot be used for paying salaries, but strictly for the presidential defense establishment directly subordinate to Abbas.
A few weeks ago Israel transferred NIS 40 million (roughly USD 9.5 million) to the Palestinian Authority. This money was also taken from the frozen tax funds, and was used mainly for funding Palestinian hospitals in east Jerusalem.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promised American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that he would fulfill his commitments to Abbas, and indeed, Olmert took a few steps in that direction last week.
Last week, Olmert inspected the concessions to Palestinians on the border crossings. He also looked into the matter of the easing the movement of Palestinians through roadblocks, dirt blockades and interchanges.