Palestinians say Israel to release tax funds

PA official says Fayyad informed by Clinton, Blair that Netanyahu approved transfer of funds withheld in wake of Hamas-Fatah unity deal.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
Israel has agreed to release millions of dollars in suspended tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority, a Palestinian official said on Sunday.
Earlier this month Israel had blocked the routine handover of about 300 million shekels ($88 million) in customs and other levies it collects on behalf of the Palestinians after PA President Mahmoud Abbas struck a unity deal with Hamas.
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Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said at the time he would only allow the transfer after receiving guarantees the money would not reach Hamas.
An official in Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's office said they had been informed by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Quartet envoy Tony Blair that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had approved the transfer.
An aide to Steinitz, who as finance minister oversees the funds, said he had "received some clarifications" in recent days, but that the money had not been transferred.
Fayyad had sought international intervention to prevent the Israeli measure. The PA is also heavily dependent on aid from donors including the United States, which has said its future assistance will depend on the shape of a new Palestinian government, expected to be formed under the unity agreement.
The tax transfers provide the PA, which exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank, with $1 billion to $1.4 billion annually. Palestinian officials said they would not be able to meet their commitments, including paying salaries, without the funds.