Israel to Return Frozen Tax Funds to PA

1.8 billion shekels to be transferred to Ramallah on Monday, despite PA joining the ICC.

Arutz Sheva Staff , | updated: 8:30 PM

Rami Hamdallah
Rami Hamdallah
Flash 90

Israel has agreed to transfer in full hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes collected for the Palestinian Authority but frozen in a row over the International Criminal Court (ICC), PA "Prime Minister" Rami Hamdallah said, according to AFP.

Rami Hamdallah, in a statement from his office late Friday, said Israel pledged at a meeting with Palestinian officials to hand over the taxes collected between December and March, amounting to almost half a billion dollars.

Israeli officials on Saturday confirmed an agreement was sealed on the taxes, while the media said the transfer of 1.8 billion shekels would take place on Monday.

The UN special coordinator for Middle East peace efforts, Nickolay Mladenov, welcomed the deal as an important step "in the right direction".

Israel agreed at the start of April to release the funds after deducting massive and accumulating debts due for electricity, water and medical services -  a proposal rejected by the Palestinians, who insisted on full payment. The funds in question have been held back from the PA since January, in retaliation for its moves to join the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Hamdallah said the PA, once the funds are received, will firstly pay the April salaries of its 180,000 employees, who have been receiving only 60 percent of their wages since December.

The deficit will also be paid "as soon as possible," he claimed. 

The PA has repeatedly asked for foreign donations, claiming it is on the verge of collapse due to a worsening financial crisis.

In March 2014, Ramallah announced it had reached a staggering $4.8 billion in debt, with a 2014 budgetary deficit of $1.5 billion.

While blaming Israel for the PA’s financial woes, Abbas continues to spend six percent of the PA’s annual budget to pay $4.5 million a month to jailed terrorists and another $6.5 million to their families.