The Israeli government announced Wednesday that it will be releasing $100 Million of Palestinian Tax and Customs revenue. The decision came amidst international pressure from the United States, the European Union and the United Nations.The initial decision to freeze the money was made by Israel as a punishment to the Palestinian Authority for seeking international recognition, especially after it won a full membership at the UNESCO in October.
Israel claims that the Palestinian leadership is avoiding talks with Tel Aviv by conducting what it called “unilateral moves instead of reaching a negotiated peace agreement”.
The office of Netanyahu claimed that the decision to unfreeze the Palestinian money was made as the Palestinian leadership has stopped “its unilateral moves on the international level”. The office added that should the Palestinian Authority resume such move, the money will be frozen again.
The Palestinian decision to halt talks with Israel was made due to Israel ongoing invasions and violations, and its resumption of settlement activities in the occupied territories, especially in occupied East Jerusalem.
Under previous Palestinian-Israeli peace agreements, Israel collects customs and taxes on border terminals leading to the occupied territories since Israel controls and runs border terminals leading to the West Bank.
One of the issues that Israel had to take into account is that the money is used to pay salaries and pensions of government employees, but most importantly, the salaries of the Palestinian security forces that cooperate with Israel in the West Bank.
Palestinian Authority spokesperson, Dr. Ghassan Khatib, stated that he heard of the Israeli decision to release the Palestinian money, but added that, so far, Israel has not officially informed the P.A of its decision.
It is worth mentioning that several European countries and a number of countries that provide financial assistance to the P.A, voiced repeated calls to Netanyahu to ensure the release of the money.
Direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority have been halted for approximately three years.
The Palestinian leadership said that it cannot hold talks with Israel while it is ongoing with its settlement construction and expansion activities, and while it continues it invasions, attacks, and the demolition of homes especially in occupied East Jerusalem.
Israel claims that the Palestinian stances are “preconditions”, and insists on what it calls “its right to build housing projects” despite the fact that settlements are illegal under international law.