Israeli minister outraged as cabinet okays plan to transfer Palestinian Authority funds

Israel approves compromise deal to handover frozen PA taxes to Norway.

By Vered Weiss, World Israel News

Israel security cabinet on Sunday approved a proposal to transfer funds earmarked for the Palestinian Authority to Norway, in the hopes of resolving a long-simmering disputed between Jerusalem and Washington.

Under the plan greenlighted by the security cabinet, frozen Palestinian Authority tax funds collected for the PA from PA residents working in Israel will be transferred to Norway, but will only be released with the approval of Israel’s finance minister.

The funds usually amount to between 750 to 800 million shekels per month, and comprise 65% of the PA’s budget with 120 million shekels designated for PA employees in the Gaza Strip.

The funds also are intended to pay 32,000 PA security personnel.

The plan was drafted at the urging of the United States to ensure that funds reach the Palestinian Authority.

The Biden administration has demanded Israel unfreeze funds earmarked for the PA, as part of the administration’s bid to reform the PA’s leadership.

Israel, however, has expressed concerns the funds could be transferred in part to Hamas, in particular the money earmarked for the Gaza Strip. While Hamas seized control of  Gaza in 2007, the Palestinian Authority continues to fund public services – including security forces – in the Strip.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich who presented the proposal, said that Norway would not be given the authority to transfer money directly, and the US has given its assurances that the money wouldn’t reach Hamas.

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Smotrich said, “From Israel’s point of view, this is an important political achievement. There is an American guarantee that even if some of the money reaches Gaza, all funds can be withheld.”

He added, “This means that Norway has to agree to this condition and that Israel has oversight. There is also American backing.”

Initially, the cabinet transferred half of the total funds to the PA while retaining the remainder of the money.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir strongly criticized the plan and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Ben-Gvir said, “Unfortunately, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu constantly moves the red line.”

He continued, “Sometimes they provide Gaza with fuel, sometimes they give up the demand for humanitarian aid in exchange for humanitarian aid.”

Ben-Gvir added, “Last week they began sending in trucks with flour and now they are making a decision that does not guarantee that the money would not reach the Nazis from Gaza.”

He concluded, “Unfortunately, even on the Right, there are those who are still under the misconception and I don’t think that ‘good solutions come from Norway.”