In the shadow of the decision of the Quartet (the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia) to establish an international mechanism to infuse funds earmarked for humanitarian purposes into the PA, Israel has decided to follow with a transfer of 50 million shekels ($11 million) in tax revenue funds to the PA. Israeli officials say that the monies will bypass the Hamas-led government and reach humanitarian causes.
Defense Minister (Labor) Amir Peretz instructed Major-General Yosef Mishlav, the Coordinator of Activities in the Territories, to prepare the transfer of funds. Israel hopes that the funds will reach the PA healthcare system, and be used for the purchase of pharmaceuticals and other related needs. The proposed transfer of funds will be brought before the cabinet for approval at Sunday’s weekly meeting.
In addition, Peretz has also indicated he may relax restrictions at border crossings between Israel and Gaza, explaining he feels the current stringent regulations are resulting in humanitarian hardships on the PA.
According to statements released by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the decision to transfer funds is due to mounting international pressure after the Quartet decided to begin transferring funds to Fatah institutions under the control of Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), thereby bypassing the Hamas-led government.
The cabinet in February decided that the transfer of tax revenue funds would cease until such time the Hamas-led administration recognizes Israel’s right to exist, halts terror attacks and agrees to abide by previously signed agreements between Israel and the PA.