Israel will resume the transfer of tax revenues collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority but will withhold an amount equivalent to the funds earmarked for the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, the Security Cabinet announced following a vote late Thursday.
“The Security Cabinet decided to deduct all funds designated for the Gaza Strip—in addition to the deduction, required by law, of funds paid to terrorists and their families—from Palestinian Authority funds,” the decision read.
The withheld sum amounts to approximately $100 million, according to Israel’s Kan News public broadcaster.
Israel collects taxes and tariffs on behalf of Ramallah as part of a mechanism outlined in the 1993 Oslo Accords.
Following Hamas’s Oct. 7 terror assault that killed 1,400 people, Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich instructed his ministry to halt the transfer of funds to the P.A.
Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee that the Biden administration asked Jerusalem to release the funds.
Smotrich on Wednesday said, “I hear that there are those who think that while our heroic soldiers and commanders are sacrificing their lives for the defense of the homeland, we should transfer money to this despicable enemy in Judea and Samaria.”
The minister also urged fellow Cabinet members to reconsider the policy of transferring money to Ramallah, due to “senior P.A. officials’ support for the horrific massacres of the Nazi terrorist organization Hamas.”
In a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he listed 12 inflammatory statements that P.A. officials made in the wake of the slaughter by Hamas operatives.
During the Security Cabinet vote on Thursday, Smotrich abstained, while National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir voted against the measure.
“I opposed the transfer of funds to the [Palestinian] Authority, and I still oppose it. The aspirations of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are the same,” Smotrich explained in a post on X (formerly Twitter) on Friday.
“When my primary position was accepted, and so was my demand to offset the money for Gaza, I did not see fit to vote against the position of my colleagues,” he added.
The Security Cabinet also voted in favor of a proposal to sever “all contact” with the Strip.
“There will be no more Palestinian workers from Gaza. Those workers from Gaza who were in Israel on the day of the outbreak of the war will be returned to Gaza,” the statement said.
Gaza residents who legally work in Israel and were detained following the Oct. 7 invasion were returned to the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom border crossing on Friday morning, Army Radio reported.
Before the Hamas assault, Jerusalem provided work permits to some 17,000 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip. Some of them helped Hamas plan and carry out the massacre.
On Sunday, the head of the Civil Affairs Department in the Israeli Defense Ministry’s Unit for Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Col. Elad Goren, provided harrowing new details on Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks on southern Israel.
Residents of Gaza “murdered, slaughtered, raped, tortured and burned our citizens. They also invaded the Gaza Coordination and Liaison Office, our base, and murdered three of our soldiers. They did shocking things there that are difficult for me to say,” he said.
“Thousands of Palestinians passed through Erez [border] crossing every day to enter Israel for medical treatment and more. Our soldiers are the ones who provided the entry permits for them to enter Israel,” said Goren. “A few days ago, I sat with the father of one of the soldiers who was murdered. He asked me if my son’s job was to help people with medical assistance, why did they murder him? I didn’t know what to tell him. This is Hamas,” he added.