Israel releases withheld Palestinian tax revenues

11:02, May 17, 2011      

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The Israeli government late Sunday night agreed to forward to the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) some 300 million shekels (about 86 million U.S. dollars) in withheld tax revenues, reported local media.

Israel had halted the latest regularly-scheduled fund transfer several weeks ago, after PNA President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction signed an accord with Hamas in Cairo, towards a national unity government.

Israel maintains that Hamas is a terrorist organization, and refuses to negotiate with its leaders, and Israeli officials have repeated warned that such a pact would spell the end of peace talks.

"For the last two weeks, we gave the PNA a yellow card," Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said in a statement Sunday night, adding "but we decided to renew the revenue transfers after we got confirmation from the Palestinians that no money will be transferred to Hamas or to terrorist operations."

The Israeli Knesset parliament lawmakers of the Likud-led government slammed the decision on Monday, calling it "zigzagging, " that would harm Israel's international credibility.

"(Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu is again zigzagging and embarrassing Israel," Kadima Party member Nachman Shai said, according to the Ha'aretz daily.

"Nothing was left from his threats and statements against the transfer of funds to the PNA, other than the widening of the political hole he led Israel to and the embarrassment from its ( the country's) failed conduct," Shai said.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad warned earlier this month that his government would not have the funds to pay salaries of its employees, if Israel did not release the tax and customs levies.

Source: Xinhua
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