Israel to Transfer Palestinian Funds Held Over UNESCO Membership Bid

Netanyahu, top ministers expected to approve the thawing of $100 million in Palestinian tax money; cabinet to formulate policy regarding sanctions against PA in case of future unilateral moves in the UN.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security-diplomatic cabinet is expected to meet Monday and approve the thaw of $100 million of tax funds Israel had collected for the Palestinian Authority during the month of October, and which were frozen over the Palestinian admission into the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

According to one senior Israeli official, the majority of cabinet ministers are expected for vote for passing the funds over to the PA, as a result of, among other reasons, the security establishment's vehement objection to the continued withholding of Palestinian funds, which the PA uses to pay Palestinian security officials in the West Bank.

Benjamin Netanyahu - Avi Ohayon - 11.10.2011
Avi Ohayon

The $100 million are Palestinian money which Israel collects for it under the Oslo Accords. 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.

However, cabinet is also expected to discuss new policies concerning future sanctions Israel could impose on the PA, if Palestinians continue to pursue unilateral actions in the United Nations.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz is scheduled to present a proposal for economic sanctions on the PA in response to moves already taken in the UN, a proposal which could include the withholding of future tax collections.

Meanwhile, the future of the Palestinian bid for statehood in the UN is still unclear, as PA officials have yet to secure the 9 votes they need in the Security Council in order to be awarded full UN membership.

The Palestinians are mulling the option of appealing the United Nations General Assembly on November 29 in order to attain the status of upgraded observer, a possibility which has yet to convince Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

On Sunday, Abbas told U.S. Mideast Envoy David Hale that the Palestinian Authority was willing to cooperate with the Quartet on the Middle East in order to restart peace talks with Israel, adding, however, that Israel had to both freeze all construction in the settlements and recognize the 1967 borders as basis for future negotiations.

Hale and other Quartet representatives are expected to meet top PA negotiator Saeb Erekat on Monday as well as with Netanyahu's personal emissary Yitzhak Molcho.

קראו כתבה זו בעברית: ישראל צפויה להפשיר הכספים שהוקפאו בעקבות הצטרפות הפלסטינים לאונסק"ו