Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO
Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, January 07, 2018.

PM Netanyahu’s Political Defense Cabinet is expected to support the transfer of the Palestinian Authority’s tax funds through Norway, discounting the funds that would have gone to Gaza. According to a Kan11 News report Saturday night, all the cabinet members are expected to support the decision except for National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir who will most likely oppose it.

Ben Gvir on Friday issued a statement saying, “I will vote against the decision to transfer the terrorist funds of Hamas to a third country, the decision that was made so that the authority agrees to receive its tax revenues. These funds should remain in the State of Israel, and if the suit-wearing terrorists of the Palestinian Authority don’t want to accept the PA’s funds, let them not take them. In my view, terrorists are terrorists, whether they are in Gaza or the Palestinian Authority.”


According to News12, the Norwegian involvement in the transfers was conceived by Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who until now was opposed to transferring the funds to the PA, and Minister Ron Dermer who is considered Netanyahu’s man and serves as an observer in the war cabinet.

Israel collects customs on goods that are purchased by PA residents and taxes on the wages of PA residents working in Israel and transfers those funds regularly to the government in Ramallah. However, since Smotrich has taken over the finance ministry, he has been discounting the amount the PA pays out as salaries to terrorists in Israeli security prisons and the families of terrorists who were killed by Israel. Recently, Smotrich has also refused to transfer the amount that was regularly due to be transferred to the Hamas government in Gaza.

The PA for its part has been refusing to receive anything but the entire sum it claims should come to it, a decision that’s driving Ramallah to the brink of bankruptcy.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, June 18, 2023. / Amit Shabi/POOL

The new deal that was conceived by Smotrich and Dermer is based on 4 principles:

  1. The money that would have gone to Gaza will be placed in the trust of a third party, the Norwegian state.
  2. The US and Norway will guarantee that the money will not be transferred to Gaza.
  3. There will not be loans extended to Hamas or other elements in the Gaza Strip against the funds in the trust.
  4. Should any of these principles be violated, the entire fund going to the PA would be frozen.

Once the Israeli cabinet votes to approve the plan, it would be up to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to decide whether he accepts the curtailed funds.

According to Kan11, Smotrich has been pressuring Ben Gvir to support the deal.

MK Amit Halevi (Likud) argued that “The Minister of Finance cannot transfer the Hamas money to Norway. As was made clear by the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, the amount in question, about NIS 150 million ($40 million) per month, is money that belongs to Hamas, without any other additions intended for Gaza, yet Smotrich is transferring it to the Palestinian Authority anyway. This money was placed under a foreclosure order and the Israeli government cannot transfer it.”


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