The Security Cabinet Wednesday approved unfreezing tax revenues collected for the Palestinian Authority despite PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ unilateral moves to win United Nations recognition.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu explained Tuesday he has reversed his position because Abbas has shown diplomatic “calm” since his failed bid for full membership in the United Nations and his successful attempt to win membership on the UNESCO agency.
However, as recently as Tuesday Abbas said the decision to apply to join the United Nations “is our legitimate right” based on the 1947 U.N. resolution to form a Jewish and an Arab state in the region.
The Arab world immediately rejected the decision and launched a war that it hoped would annihilate Israel.
Freezing tax revenues was considered diplomatic retaliation for the bid for U.N. membership, a blatant violation of the Oslo Accords that calls on the Palestinian Authority and Israel not to stage any unilateral moves.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was adamantly against handing over the money, which amounts to approximately $100 million a month in taxes that Israel collects for the PA on goods at crossings along the security fence. He said he would not break up the coalition government over the issue. Lieberman was the only Cabinet minister against unfreezing the funds.
Israel has been under international pressure to free the money, particularly after American-backed PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s statements earlier this week that the Palestinian Authority might fall apart without the funds.