[QODLink]
Middle East
Israel unblocks Palestinian funds
Palestinian Authority set to receive $86m in taxes, withheld by Israel following unity deal between Fatah and Hamas.
Last Modified: 16 May 2011 11:03
Fatah's Mahmoud Abbas, left, and Hamas' Khaled Meshaal signed a unity deal in Cairo earlier this month. [Reuters

The Palestinian Authority is due to receive tax revenue funds withheld by Israel since Palestinian factions agreed a unity deal earlier this month, according to Israeli officials.

Approximately $86m in tax and customs revenues from ports and border was held after Fatah and Hamas agreed the deal. Israel justified the freeze on the grounds that some of the money would go to Hamas, which it considers a terrorist organisation.

The money adds up to about a third of the PA's budget, and the freeze meant Palestinian government workers had gone without salaries .

Monday's announcement came after a weekend of deadly clashes on the 63rd anniversary of the founding of Israel in 1948, dubbed the 'catastrophe' or 'Nakba' by Palestinians.

The freeze was originally justified by Israel's finance minister, Yuval Steinitz, who had suggested that "communal fund would finance the terrorist activities of Hamas, and we want it established that there will be two separate funds", although a separate fund was not created.

On Monday, Israeli strategic affairs minister Moshe Yaalon explained: "We have unblocked the funds because we have established that the agreement between Fatah and Hamas has had no effect."

But Yaalon, also a member of Israel's security cabinet, said the freeze could happen again.

"We will continue to verify that the money is not going into the accounts of terrorist organisations. If we believe that is the case, we will stop the transfers again," he said.

The freeze was widely criticised, drawing objections from UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon and European leaders, as well as some members of Israel's government, who called it a violation of the 1994 Paris accords, which require Palestinian tax and custom revenues to be handed over.

Fatah and Hamas delegations are to meet in Cairo on Monday to discuss the formation of a new government, a senior Egyptian official said, quoted by Egypt's MENA news agency.

The two factions are to "put in place a mechanism for immediate reconciliation, in particular the formation of a government of independent Palestinians," he said.

"Egypt will help the two sides come to an agreement," over the choice of prime minister and the composition of the cabinet, the unnamed official said.

Source:
Al Jazeera and Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.