Fayad: Israel to transfer tax revenues

PA spokesman: J'lem delayed money due to Fayad's request that EU not upgrade relations with Israel.

fayad 88 (photo credit:)
fayad 88
(photo credit: )
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayad said Monday that Israeli officials told him they have transferred millions of dollars in withheld tax revenues to the PA. Israel held back around $74 million in tax revenues at the end of May that were supposed to be transferred under a long-standing deal between both sides, Palestinian officials said. The officials said they believed Israel delayed transfer of the money following Fayad's lobbying of European nations not to boost their relations with the Jewish state. The money is aimed toward paying the salaries of around 150,000 Palestinian civil servants. Fayad said Israeli officials told him the money had been transferred and would arrive in the coming days. The issue is sensitive for Fayad, who needs to show Palestinians that their struggling economic conditions will improve by engaging Israel. Israeli officials were not available for comment on Monday, a Jewish holiday, but a treasury spokeswoman on Sunday said the money was transferred last week. Palestinian spokesman Riyad Malki said Monday that the delay was "a punishment in response to a national stance taken by the government." Malki was referring to Fayad's call on the European Union not to upgrade its relations with Israel, while settlements expand in the West Bank. Fayad's unusual move upset Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who expressed his "grave concern" over the matter. Israel has strong trade relations with the EU and is looking for closer cooperation in research and political and economic areas. Israel also is seeking membership in the 30-member OECD, which champions democracy and free market economy.