As protests in the West Bank enter their sixth day over the high cost of living, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered Tuesday evening the transfer of a £40 million (250 NIS) advance to the Palestinian Authority.
The transfer is intended to enable the PA to pay salaries of government employees who have not received a full paycheck since June.
Netanyahu announced that he had ordered the tax money it collects for the Palestinians to be paid in advance. The money in question is 50 per cent of the total taxes Israel collects for Palestinians each month under an agreement between both sides. In accordance with interim peace deals, Israel collects millions of dollars in customs, border and some income taxes each month on behalf of the Palestinian Authority and relays them to the West Bank government.
Netanyahu consulted with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz on the issue and communicated the directive through Isaac Molho, Israel’s special envoy to the Palestinian leadership.
On Tuesday, during his meeting with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, Netanyahu said Israel was working on ‘several fronts’ to help the PA cope with its economic difficulties. ‘We have made several changes in the taxation agreements,’ he said, ‘and we are advancing transfers.’
Netanyahu added Israel is also attempting to help Palestinian workers by ‘making a few steps easier for them,’ a media statement issued by the prime minister’s office stated. ‘For our part, we are making efforts to help the PA survive this crisis. I hope that they will succeed in doing so; this is in our common interest,’ the statement continued.
Also on Tuesday, PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad announced a package of subsidies and tax cuts in an effort to quell protests against the high cost of living in the West Bank and the government’s failure to pay full salaries to civil servants. The prime minister has been the target of several days of demonstrations in the Palestinian territory, where many residents blame him for their financial woes.