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Israel agrees to send NIS 500 million to PA, bypassing terror stipend freeze

7 14 36
30.08.2021

Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Monday said Israel had offered to transfer the Palestinian Authority NIS 500 million ($155 million) in order to keep the cash-strapped government afloat.

The arrangement announced by Gantz, which he described as a loan, will allow the Israeli government to effectively circumvent a law passed in 2018 that requires it to offset any payments made by the PA to Palestinians wounded, jailed, or killed by Israel — including avowed terrorists — by withholding the same amount from the Palestinian tax revenue that Israel collects.

Instead, Israel will loan the PA approximately NIS 500 million, and pay itself back next June out of the roughly NIS 600 million ($186 million) it withheld earlier this summer and put in escrow, which was estimated to be roughly the same as what Ramallah paid out in salaries to terror convicts and families of so-called martyrs in 2020.

Gantz’s announcement came after a meeting he held the night before with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, the first such public meeting between high-level Israeli and Palestinian officials in over a decade. At a briefing Monday, Gantz called for the PA to be bolstered as a bulwark against Hamas and other terror groups.

“I told Abbas that we aren’t going anywhere and that the Palestinians aren’t going anywhere. I went to the meeting in order to build confidence and preserve the interests of the State of Israel and the important ties we have with the Palestinian Authority, which I believe we need to strengthen,” Gantz said.

The PA did not immediately comment on the offer of funds. The two sides have been negotiating the matter for some time. Last week, a Palestinian official confirmed that these talks were taking place, though it described the arrangement as an “advance” on funds that the PA was owed, “not a loan.”

The defense minister said Israel would also recognize the status of Palestinians or their spouses currently living in the West Bank without proper documentation, most of whom came from the Gaza Strip or from abroad without official permission over the years in order to marry people in the West........

© The Times of Israel


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