Itongadol.- Israeli officials say freeze has only declarative value, as revenues for March already transferred.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bureau held a briefing for foreign media agencies on Thursday, announcing his decision to freeze the transfer of tax money that Israel collects for the Palestinian Authority, with funds also being confiscated to pay off PA debts to the Israel Electric Corporation and other entities. This was Israel’s response to the PA’s application to join 15 international conventions and treaties at the United Nations, the bureau said.
The media briefing notwithstanding, senior Israeli officials said that Israel had transferred the entire amount of the tax revenues it had collected in March – approximately $100 million – three or four days earlier.
The senior officials said Netanyahu’s decision to freeze the money, over the objection of Finance Minister Yair Lapid, would only be relevant, if at all, in May, with regard to money collected in April. The officials say the declaration, which had declarative value only, was intended for domestic political consumption, particularly to calm the right flank of Netanyahu’s coalition.
In any case, peace talks between the Israelis, Americans and the Palestinians will continue until April 29 – the date set for their formal conclusion – in an attempt to extend them. If the efforts are successful, the transfer of the Palestinian tax money will take place as usual. And if those efforts fail, Israel could be expected to impose far more severe sanctions than holding back the tax money, anyway.
When the international media reported on the “freezing of the tax funds,” the U.S. government and the PA knew full well that the money had already been transferred a few days previously. That is the reason responses to the announcement were weak. The Palestinians barely condemned it, while U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Jan Psaki said, “We would regard such a development as unfortunate.”