update deskIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

Abbas urges Arab nations to support Palestinian Authority

The Biden administration is demanding that Israel transfer frozen funds to Ramallah.

Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting in Ramallah, July 25, 2019. Credit: Flash90.
Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting in Ramallah, July 25, 2019. Credit: Flash90.

Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday demanded that Arab countries increase their financial support for his organization, saying Ramallah has not received the funding it expected.

“It has now become critical to activate the Arab safety net, to boost the resilience of our people and to enable the government to carry out its duties,” he told leaders at an Arab League summit in Bahrain.

Abbas slammed Israel’s decision to freeze millions in tax revenue that Ramallah planned to send to the Gaza Strip, saying the measure meant to prevent funds from reaching Hamas has led to a “dire situation.”

The P.A. chief also told Arab leaders that Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks gave the Jewish state “more pretexts and justifications to attack the Gaza Strip.”

Abbas described the slaughter of some 1,200 people, primarily Israeli civilians, as a “military operation which Hamas unilaterally carried out,” again failing to denounce the deadliest single-day attack on Jews since the Holocaust.

In addition to the funds earmarked for Gaza, Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has paused a transfer of some 170 million shekels ($46 million) to Ramallah in protest of its support for anti-Israel moves at the International Criminal Court.

“Those who act against our soldiers and commanders in The Hague should not receive any assistance,” sources in Jerusalem told Channel 12 last week.

Meanwhile, funding from international donors has also been squeezed, falling from 30% of the $6 billion annual budget to around 1%, then-P.A.-Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said in February.

The Biden administration has demanded that Israel transfer the sum withheld by Smotrich to the Palestinian Authority.

“These funds must be transferred to the Palestinian Authority. If they are not transferred, it will cause an acute financial crisis in the P.A. and this could set the territory on fire,” U.S. officials conveyed to Jerusalem, according to a report by Israel’s Kan News public broadcaster on Thursday morning.

Sources close to the government told Kan that “thanks to the actions of Finance Minister Smotrich, hundreds of millions of shekels that were transferred to Gaza and the Nazi terrorists were withheld.”

Regarding the 170 million shekels frozen last week, the sources said that “the issue is under review following the developments and the activities of the Palestinian Authority.”

Jerusalem collects 600 million to 700 million shekels ($162 million to $189 million) in tax and tariff revenue on behalf of the P.A. every month under the terms of the Oslo Accords, signed with the PLO in the 1990s.

Almost 1 billion shekels ($278 million) yearly go towards the “pay for slay” policy, under which Ramallah disburses monthly stipends to terrorists and their families.

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