Photo: Associated Press
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Photo: Associated Press

Israel, Palestinians reach deal over transfer of frozen funds

Abbas initially declined to take $473m. in frozen tax money after Israel deducted sums the PA owes the Israeli electric company. Agreement includes commitee to deal with Palestinian debts.

Israel said on Saturday it would transfer $470 million of withheld tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority after PAlestinian President Mahmoud Abbas initially refused to accept the funds because money the PA owes Israel for utilities was deducted from the sum.



In December, Israel began withholding around $130 million per month of taxes it collects on behalf of the Palestinians after the Palestinian Authority announced it was joining the International Criminal Court (ICC).


Abbas at a conference in Ramallah. (Photo: Reuters)
Abbas at a conference in Ramallah. (Photo: Reuters)


Israel had condemned the Palestinian move to join the ICC, saying it was a unilateral step that undermined prospects for a negotiated peace settlement.


The move forced the Western-backed Palestinian Authority to cut most of its employees' salaries by 40 percent and to resort to an emergency budget.


An Israeli government official, who declined to be named, said in a statement that 1.85 billion shekels ($473 million) would be transferred after negotiations between Israeli military officials and the Palestinians resulted in a deal.


The transfer was meant to ensure regional stability and for humanitarian considerations, the official said, but gave no further details.


President Mahmoud Abbas informed a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization of the coming transfers on Saturday, and said a joint Israeli-Palestinian committee would discuss outstanding sums.


Following international pressure, Israel agreed last month to resume the transfers and said it would pay $400 million, having deducted money it said the Palestinians owed for utilities and medical treatment.


However, Abbas said he would not accept this sum since Israel had made its deductions unilaterally. The current agreement appears to have resolved this issue.


According to an agreement reached Friday night between Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Yoav Mordechai, outstanding debts the Palestinian Authority has to Israel for the months of December, January and February, will be deducted from the tax funds.


Israel's state-owned electric corporation says it is owed about $510,000 by the Palestinians.


"An agreement was reached to send three months' worth of funds in full and a joint (Palestinian-Israeli) committee will discuss all the amounts that belong to us and what we owe," Abbas said.


The Palestinian Authority employs some 160,000 people in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the rival Islamist Hamas movement.


פרסום ראשון: 04.18.15, 15:43
 new comment
This will delete your current comment