Israel to transfer blocked Palestinian funds: PM's office
JERUSALEM - Agence France-Presse
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas (R) and US President Barack Obama give a joint press conference following meetings at the Muqata, the Palestinian Authority headquarters, in the West Bank city of Ramallah on March 21, 2013. AFP photoIsrael is to resume the transfer of tariffs and tax monies it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, which were frozen last year as punishment for the UN bid, the premier's office said Monday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "has decided to authorise the transfer of fiscal revenues to the Palestinian Authority," it said in a statement, adding that the finance minister had already "charged officials with taking up the transfer of funds again." A spokesman for Netanyahu said the decision was to take effect "immediately".
The decision comes days after a visit by US President Barack Obama to the Holy Land and follow-up meetings with both sides by Secretary of State John Kerry, who has pushed for the funds to be released since taking up his post in February.
Israel in early December announced it would not transfer tax and tariff funds it collects for the Palestinians in response to their successful bid for upgraded UN membership, a move the Jewish state had fiercely opposed.
Netanyahu authorised a one-off release of $100 million at the end of January, with an official at the prime minister's office, citing the Palestinian's "very difficult financial situation," stressed at the time it was a temporary measure only.
Ahead of Obama's visit, the Palestinian Authority urged the world to step up financial aid and press Israel to allow economic development, over fears of "political collapse" due to Israeli fiscal strangulation.