Transfer of funds to Palestinians: Israeli Finance Minister refuses to pay them and offends the United States

Transfer of funds to Palestinians: Israeli Finance Minister refuses to pay them and offends the United States
Transfer of funds to Palestinians: Israeli Finance Minister refuses to pay them and offends the United States

The United States on Thursday sharply contested a decision by Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich to transfer funds intended for the Palestinian Authority to “families of victims of terrorism,” calling it “incredibly wrong.”

Risk of destabilization

“We think this is an incredibly misguided decision by this minister,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters.

He was reacting to the decision of the far-right minister in Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, announced Thursday, that he had signed a decree “transferring some $35 million from the frozen funds of the Palestinian Authority to victims of terrorism.”

“The Palestinian Authority encourages and promotes terrorism by paying the families of terrorists, prisoners and released prisoners,” the minister wrote, to justify his decision.

For Washington, “this type of measure by the Israeli government risks destabilizing the West Bank and further harming Israel’s own security”, while the war in the Gaza Strip has caused an outbreak of violence in the occupied West Bank.

Revenues blocked since October 7

“We have made it clear to the Israeli government that these funds belong to the Palestinian people. They should be transferred to the Palestinian Authority immediately, they should not have been detained, they should not be delayed,” Matthew Miller said.

The US official also argued that the Palestinian Authority “has made considerable efforts to maintain calm and stability in the West Bank over the years, particularly since October 7,” when Hamas launched an unprecedented attack against Israel, unleashing a relentless military campaign of retaliation in the Gaza Strip.

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Under agreements reached in the 1990s, Israel raises funds for the Palestinian Authority and then returns the money to it. But Israel has been blocking revenues since October 7.

In a report in May, the World Bank estimated that the Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas was on the verge of financial asphyxiation, due to the complete drying up of its resource flows and a sharp recession in the Palestinian economy.

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