$100 Million Released For PA in One-Time Deal

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters) -

Israel will give Palestinian Authority 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.

They described the handover as a one-time deal, indicating Israel had not formally scrapped sanctions against the Palestinian Authority.

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.

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.

The PA’s economic troubles were raised this week in a meeting between Netanyahu and Tony Blair, peace envoy for the U.S., United Nations, European Union and Russia, an Israeli official said.

Following those talks, the official told Reuters on condition of anonymity, “we have agreed to transfer one month’s payment, because of the difficult financial situation there.

“This is a one-time decision and there is no decision yet on what will happen next.”

Another Israeli official said the handover would take place imminently, “perhaps even today.”