Israel Transfers Frozen PA Tax Funds

$460K transferred to PA despite its successful bid to the ICC; Ramallah claims to be using the money to pay gov't workers.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
Flash 90

Israel on Monday unblocked close to half a billion dollars it confiscated from PA tax revenues since the beginning of the year, the Palestinian Authority said.

The PA said it received 1.8 billion Israeli shekels ($460,000, 428,500 euros) and would from Wednesday pay December and January salary arrears to 180,000 civil servants, who have been on 60 percent pay.

The PA had threatened to turn to the International Criminal Court (ICC) over Israel's decision in early January to retain the taxes in retaliation for the Palestinians joining the International Criminal Court.

Under an economic agreement signed in 1994, Israel transfers to the PA tens of millions of dollars each month in customs duties levied on goods destined for Palestinian markets that transit through Israeli ports.

The monthly funds account for two-thirds of the Palestinians' annual budget, excluding foreign aid.

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).

Israel has not said whether it would now resume normal monthly payments.

Israel's state-run Electric Corporation on Monday withdrew a court suit to have its outstanding bills paid directly from the confiscated money, after the High Court of Justice ruled it had no legal right to do so.

AFP contributed to this report.