Israel has agreed to fork over to the Palestinian Authority $450 million in frozen funds it collects for the Abbas regime in a compromise that only reduces without erasing Ramallah’s $500 million debt for electricity and other services.
The monthly transfer amounts to approximately 70 percent of Palestinian Authority revenues.
The agreement was reached Friday, the same day Al Quds’ journalist Said Arikat said at the daily US State Dept. briefing:
There was a meeting today between the European and American consul-generals with the Palestinian prime minister to discuss the financial situation. The Israelis are holding 1.7 billion shekels, or $500 million. But they’re saying that the American consul general suggested that there may be a resolution in the next 24 hours.
Spokeswoman Marie Harf did not comment except to say, “We think this just needs to be resolved.”
The United States has been pressuring Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to change his position that the funds would be released after Israel deducts the huge amount of money the Palestinian Authority owes the country. Israel reportedly agreed to the compromise for “humanitarian” reasons.
PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas rejected the chance to erase the debt, which would have been meant waiting for approximately four months before receiving more tax money. He also would have been able to have a clean slate, although it is difficult to assume he would not have instantly begun to rack up a new debt.
The compromise agreement only partially reduces the debt. Moreover, previous transfers of tax money with debt reductions have been followed by a larger debt, just like any other deadbeat who ostensibly stays solvent by borrowing money to cover a debt.
This game has been going on for years, and the United States wants Israel to keep playing along. It might be to Israel’s advantage because it only is a matter of time before the Palestinian Authority goes belly-up, possible in sync with the European Union.
Israel has frozen the transfers for tax revenues several times and for different reasons, such as terror and Abbas’ failure to honor commitments during the illusion “peace process. The latest reason, in January, was Abbas’ declaration that the Palestinian Authority was applying for membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC)
Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, blamed Israel’s four-month freeze on tax revenue transfers for having “undermined the stability of the Palestinian institutions.”
The other side of the coin, the one that Israel has given Abbas, is that his own corrupt and inept regime has undermined stability.