Israel recently transferred 200 million shekels ($52 million) in tax payments to the Palestinian Authority, despite threatening not to do so over PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ insistence on seeking the status of a nonmember observer state in the U.N. General Assembly, according to a report by Army Radio on Thursday.
The payment was reportedly made despite Israel’s threat to freeze the tax money that is collected by Israeli authorities and transferred to the authority to provide the salaries of senior Palestinian officials.
Foreign Ministry officials, headed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, declared two weeks ago that a Palestinian bid in the U.N. could lead to a termination of tax money transfers to the authority, which could in effect cause the authority to collapse.
According to Army Radio, Israel has decided to react to the Palestinian bid moderately, and the only threat being used at this point is the withholding of tax payments, which are routinely handled by the Finance Ministry. However, Israel apparently decided not to go through with the threat and handed over the 200 million shekels ($52 million) for last month’s tax collection.
Army Radio quoted Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz as saying that Israel would respond in due time to the unilateral Palestinian move.
“If the Palestinian Authority thinks it will attack us in the U.N. in this extreme way and continue to benefit from our practical cooperation, I think it will be surprised,” Steinitz reportedly said.
Source: ISRAEL HAYOM