Israel Transfers Billions of Shekels to PA

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters) -
(Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Israel handed over a backlog of billions of shekels in tax money to the Palestinian Authority on Wednesday, both sides said, in another sign of warming ties between the sides.

The taxes, managed by Israel under interim peace accords from the 1990s and usually handed over monthly, make up more than half of the budget of the Palestinian Authority (PA), whose economy has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The NIS 3.77 billion ($1.14 billion) transfer is the first since June, when the Palestinians snubbed the handover due to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s plans, currently suspended, to annex parts of Yehudah and Shomron.

The Palestinians also rejected the cash several times in 2019 after Israel trimmed the sum in retaliation for funds going to the families of jailed or killed terrorists. It usually amounts to about $190 million a month.

“The Israeli government transfers all financial dues of the clearance to the account of the Palestinian Authority,” Palestinian Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh wrote, giving the figure as NIS 3.768 billion.

The Israeli Finance Ministry confirmed the details.

The PA has been unable to pay full wages of its 130,000 employees in the past months. Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said this week it would pay full salaries once it received the tax money.

Israel froze its annexation plans in August as part of an agreement to forge diplomatic ties with the United Arab Emirates. The Palestinians in November said they were resuming civil and security cooperation with Israel suspended over the annexation.