“I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)
Following recommendations made by Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, the Israeli Prime Minister has approved the transfer of Palestinian Authority (PA) frozen tax revenue.
NIS 500 million ($125 million) in PA tax revenue was frozen in January when the PA took steps to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) and other international bodies, which breaches agreements made with Israel.
Palestinian Authority membership at the ICC comes into effect on April 1, 2015.
Pointing out that the money is needed to pay public sector salaries, PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat likened the freezing of tax revenue to pure robbery, saying these actions were expected from pirates but not governments.
Cuts in transfers forced the Palestinian Authority to reduce salaries to 40 percent and to resort to an emergency budget.
The country’s deficit already stands at 15 percent of GDP and the tax revenue transfers account for two-thirds of income, meaning that the budget is falling deeper into debt monthly. And with unemployment at 25 percent, there is a sharpened threat of instability and violence. (JPost)
The announcement to release the frozen tax revenue came from the Prime Minister’s Office just before sundown on Friday.
The various debts owed by the PA, including those for water, sewage, electricity and medical care, are being deducted from the sums being transferred.
While noting the necessity to work with determination against the extremists, the prime minister stressed the importance of acting humanely and responsibly. This decision is made against the background of ongoing moves on the part of the PA to charge Israel with war crimes at the ICC.
Meanwhile, the PA continues to pay monthly stipends to the families of terrorists and those who have attacked, maimed, and killed Israeli citizens.
There is speculation that the transfer is designed to appease US president Barack Obama and/or to prop up a failing Palestinian Authority government whose collapse would likely usher in another Hamas state, this time on the eastern side of Israel. (JP)
Although under pressure to act earlier, the Israeli prime minister hesitated to do so during the political campaign out of concern that his right-wing supporters would withdraw support and that he would expose himself to criticism by his political rivals, such as Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett. (HaAretz)