January 30, 2013 - 11:17 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Israel will give Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's administration around $100 million in tax revenues that had been withheld in retaliation for his statehood bid in the United Nations, Israeli officials said on Wednesday, January 30, according to Reuters.
They described the handover as a one-time deal, signaling rightist Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had not formally scrapped sanctions that have hurt the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank and worried world powers.
But the decision follows surprise setbacks for Netanyahu in a national election this month that, while giving him enough of a lead to head the next Israeli government, also set the stage for more moderate statecraft by boosting centrist challengers whom he must now consider as coalition partners.
Under interim peace deals, Israel collects some $100 million a month in duties on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, money Abbas badly needs to pay public sector salaries. It began withholding the funds after Abbas, sidestepping stalled diplomacy, secured a Palestinian status upgrade at the United Nations in November.
Israel said the December levies would be used instead to start paying off $200 million the Palestinians owe the Israel Electric Corporation, and predicted at the time that the lien on PA funds would be in force until March at least.
Israel has previously frozen payments to the PA during times of heightened security and diplomatic tensions, provoking strong international criticism, such as when the U.N. cultural body UNESCO granted the Palestinians full membership in 2011.