Monday, October 26, 2020

Palestinian Authority returns “secret” Israeli funds

By J.J. Rhies - May 02, 2019
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Palestinian Authority]


The Israeli government “secretly” gave funds to the Palestinian Authority (PA), which is reeling in the aftermath of Israeli and U.S. aid cuts, reported Israeli Channel 7.


The television news channel said the “millions of shekels” were intended “to help alleviate [the PA’s] financial crisis and to prevent the Palestinian leadership from collapsing.”


But the PA did not accept the monetary transfer, Channel 7 added. It is not clear whether the PA rejected the funds after news of the Israeli aid became public.


On Sunday, April 29, PA President Mahmoud Abbas said the Fatah-led government would not accept Israel’s money due to its recent aid cuts, which have financially devastated the PA and had an effect on the West Bank economy.


Earlier this April, the World Bank published a report claiming the Palestinian economy is experiencing “severe financial shock.”


Israel’s restriction on imports of dual-use goods, or items that can serve both civil and military purposes, has also damaged economic growth.


Anna Bjerde, the World Bank Acting Country Director for the West Bank and Gaza, said the import ban puts a ceiling on “economic diversification and sustainable growth in the Palestinian territories.”


Only days after the World Bank report, the Arab League deployed a financial safety net for the West Bank government, pledging to give $100 million per month.


Concerning the recent “secret” funds rejected by the PA, Abbas said: “Israel is trying by all means to legitimize the deductions from our money, but we will not accept it.”


“Israel will eventually return our money our way and not its way.”


In March, Israel cut five per cent, or US$138 million, of its monthly financial assistance to the PA, which came from import tax revenues.


The reduction was a symbol of the state’s discontent with the Palestinian government’s policy of paying families of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, many of whom are militants, according to Israel.


Israel has withheld monthly payments equal to the grand monthly total paid to families.


“Israel steals or deducts the funds of martyrs, wounded and prisoners, knowing that there are agreements that every deducted penny must be agreed on by the technical and financial teams and others,” Abbas said on Sunday.


In response to the cut last March, the PA rejected all of the tax money Israel collects for it, which in January was almost 700 million shekels, or roughly half of the West Bank government’s monthly budget.


The PA implemented an emergency budget plan that included halving the salaries of all civil servants who earn more than 2,000 shekels per month, but said had no plans to stop paying the families of jailed Palestinians, Finance Minister Shukri Bishara said at the time.

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