Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his forum of eight senior ministers decided Sunday to continue Israel's freeze on the transfer of the Palestinian Authority's tax money, a senior Israeli official said, due to the latest moves by Fatah and Hamas aimed at establishing a unity government.
Israel has been withholding $100 million of the PA's money, which it collects for the Palestinians under the Oslo Accords.
According to the Israeli official, the decision to continue withholding the funds came after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal met to discuss the establishment of a Palestinian unity government.
The decision by the eight cabinet ministers seems ironic in light of the fact that Netanyahu and most of the ministers, apart from Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, believe that it is in Israel's interest to transfer the funds to the Palestinians. However, Netanyahu does not have a majority in the security-diplomatic cabinet to approve the money transfer.
GOC Central Command and the Shin Bet both believe that the continued withholding of the funds would hurt the salaries of Palestinian police officers, which could ultimately destabilize security arrangements in the West Bank.
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