The United Nations has called on Israel to unlock millions of dollars in taxes owed to the Palestinian Authority that were withheld after it decided to join the International Criminal Court.

A senior UN official told the UN Security Council on Thursday that the freeze of about $127m, imposed on January 3, was in violation of the Oslo peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

"We call on Israel to immediately resume the transfer of tax revenues," said UN Assistant Secretary-General Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen.

Israel froze tax money on January 3

Meanwhile, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, asked Arab foreign ministers gathered in Cairo to provide a "safety net" of $100m a month to cover tax revenues withheld by Israel.

During the Cairo meeting, Abbas also called for the formation of a committee to launch a new bid seeking a UN Security Council resolution on ending the Israeli occupation, a month after the council rejected a similar initiative.

The failed Arab-backed resolution set the end of 2017 as the deadline for a full Israeli withdrawal that would pave the way for Palestinian statehood.

The United States and Australia voted against the resolution, but China, France and Russia were among eight countries that backed it, leaving it just one vote short of the nine required for adoption.

The outcome spared the US from resorting to its veto, a move that could have undermined its standing in the Arab world at a time when Washington is leading a campaign against rebels in Iraq and Syria.

Source: Agencies