Netanyahu Steinitz 390.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Israel, in a “goodwill gesture” to the Palestinian Authority, gave Ramallah over the last few days a NIS 180
million advance on tax money it transfers on a monthly basis, The Jerusalem Post
The money was transferred before Ramadan, which began
Friday, to help the PA – currently in the midst of a severe financial crisis –
pay the monthly salaries of public sector employees.
Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz made the decision, one of
a number of gestures made since the beginning of the year in an attempt to
improve relations with the PA and encourage its President Mahmoud Abbas to renew
some kind of dialogue with Israel.
Senior government officials said that
the decision to transfer the funds – an advance on money that is to be
transferred in the coming months – was made before US Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton’s visit last week, and was not the result of a US request.
addition, the government’s economic cabinet recently decided to increase by
approximately 5,000 the number of Palestinian construction workers allowed to
work in the country.
The officials stressed that this quota would be
subtracted from the number of foreign workers allowed into Israel and would not
come at the expense of Israeli workers.
The officials said that Israel
generally transfers some NIS 100m. to the PA each month in tax revenues that
Jerusalem collects on the PA’s behalf. This money is often contested, and Israel
withheld the transfer of these funds in November in response to the
Palestinians’ applying for and winning acceptance as a state to the United
Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
senior official said this move was taken in the hope that it will “improve the
Noting that the PA was currently facing a severe budgetary
crisis, the official said that this money helped the PA pay its salaries before
Ramadan, and was part of Israel’s policy of trying to “preserve the Palestinian
The last goodwill gesture Israel made to the PA was in May when
it handed over the bodies of more than 90 terrorists. That move resulted from a
meeting between Abbas and Netanyahu’s envoy, Yitzhak Molcho.
Saudi Arabia said it would transfer $100m. to the PA to help ease its financial
crisis. At the time, the PA envoy to Saudi Arabia said its government had some
$1.5 billion in debt, and urgently needed an infusion of $500m.
crisis has led to some concern over the possibility of the PA going bankrupt,
and the fear that this could lead to a Hamas takeover of the West Bank. Chief
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat was quoted last week as saying this was the
worst financial crisis the PA has faced since its establishment 20 years ago.