Israel has unfrozen hundreds of millions of shekels for the Palestinian Authority (PA), to be used to pay terrorists' salaries - in violation of the law and despite promises by Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Blue and White) that he would not do such a thing, Israel Hayom reported.
Analysis of an official PA report sent to Western countries and analyzed by the Palestinian Media Watch showed that in September, Israel gave the PA 500 million shekel ($160,579,650) beyond the tax monies which it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.
The transfer follows an August meeting in Ramallah between Gantz and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
Shortly after the Gantz-Abbas meeting, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) clarified that the 500 million shekel is a "loan" and that the source of the loan is entirely from an advance on taxes which Israel will collect in the future on behalf of the PA.
"It is not from the public purse, of the Israeli taxpayer," COGAT said in a statement.
However, the PA recently published its financial report for September, in English, as part of its commitment to its donors and the international community to ensure budget transparency. According to the report, in September alone Israel passed the PA a sum total of 1.77 billion shekel ($568,433,730).
A footnote on the report also mentioned the additional 500 million shekel which Israel had transferred, but 400 million of them were claimed to be monies which the PA was owed from "previous months," i.e. a repayment of Israel's "debt" to the PA, and not an advance on future tax collections. The remaining 100 million was indeed stated to be an "advance" on future tax payments.
In other words, the PA in an official report said that it does not see itself as owing Israel a full 80% of the 500 million which were supposedly a "loan."
Under the "pay-to-slay" law, Israel has frozen 1.3 billion shekel of the taxes it collects for the PA, since these monies are used to pay terrorists' salaries.
If the Palestinian Authority report reflects reality, that would mean that the Israeli government violated its own "pay-to-slay" law, transferring nearly a third of the frozen funds to the PA, despite the fact that Abbas continues to pay terrorists' salaries.
Gantz said, "As was previously stated, the loan was given from the future defrayals which the Palestinian Authority was supposed to receive from Israel's collection."
Itamar Marcus, Director and founder of Palestinian Media Watch, said, "The differences of opinion between Israel and the Palestinian Authority about 400 million shekel are unreasonable. Could it be that Israel passed nearly half a billion shekel to the Palestinian Authority without a written agreement testifying that it is a loan? Israel must demand that the Palestinian Authority immediately correct its financial reports to reflect the fact that this is a loan."