Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu decided on Tuesday evening to transfer to the
Palestinian Authority some NIS 400 million Israel collected last month in tax
revenue for the PA, but withheld in response to the Palestinian statehood
upgrade move at the UN in November.
A source in Netanyahu’s bureau said
the decision was for a one-time transfer and was due to the economic hardships
facing the PA.
Netanyahu met on Monday in Jerusalem with Quartet envoy
Tony Blair, where this issue was raised. The US has also raised the issue with
Government sources rejected speculation that the move was a
confidence-building measure toward the PA taken in the wake of the recent Israeli
election to try and create a more positive atmosphere.
The sources also
denied the move was related to the coalition-building steps and the likelihood that Yesh Atid, which
has called for promoting talks with the Palestinians, is to be a key member of
the new coalition.
Further transfers to the PA of the tax revenues would
be evaluated on a month-bymonth basis, sources said.
Israel responded to
the PA move at the United Nations General Assembly in November by announcing
that it would withhold the transfer of funds, as well as build 3,000 housing
units beyond the Green Line, and push forward development plans for E1 in
Ma’aleh Adumim, east of Jerusalem.
Netanyahu’s decision rolls back an
announcement former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman made on December 10 that
Israel would not transfer a shekel of tax revenue to the PA for the next four
months. Liberman said the PA owed Israel NIS 6 billion, which included NIS 900m.
that the PA owed to Israel for electric and water bills, and NIS 700m. that was
owed for funds advanced in the summer to pay PA salaries.