Israel refuses tax transfer to Palestinian Authority, calls for sanctions

(MENAFN) On Wednesday, Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich announced his refusal to transfer tax revenues (known as clearing funds) to the Palestinian Authority and called for the approval of a sanctions package. This announcement comes amidst warnings from Western officials about a looming "economic catastrophe" in the occupied West bank if Israel does not renew the necessary exemptions for Israeli banks to maintain relationships with their Palestinian counterparts.

In his statement, Smotrich declared, "I do not intend to transfer clearing funds to the Palestinian Authority from now until further notice."

The clearing funds, comprising tax and customs revenues on Palestinian imports, are collected by the Israeli Finance Ministry and transferred monthly to Ramallah after deducting amounts for electricity and hospital debts, fines, and allocations paid by the Palestinian government to prisoners and released prisoners. In 2021, the average monthly clearing funds, post-deductions, amounted to 700 million shekels ($220.8 million).

These clearance funds account for approximately 63 percent of the Palestinian government's monthly income, which is already facing a severe financial crisis.

Smotrich also announced that he had asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to approve a sanctions package against the Palestinian Authority in light of new recognitions of the State of Palestine. He called for an immediate meeting of the Planning Council in the West Bank to approve 10,000 housing units, including in Area E1, the largest eastern settlement project in occupied Jerusalem.



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