CAIRO, Egypt — The Arab League on Sunday pledged $100 million per month to the Palestinian Authority to make up for funds withheld by Israel because of payments made to the families of Palestinian attackers and prisoners.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the Arab League in Cairo on Sunday as part of a diplomatic effort to rebuff the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan, which American officials indicate could be released this summer.
Abbas said, “The Arabs need to be engaging actively at this critical time.”
He used his speech to appeal to Arab states to assist the Palestinians in overcoming a major budgetary shortfall.
“A [financial] safety net must be provided,” Abbas said.
Israel announced in February that it would withhold $138 million in monthly payments to the PA to offset the PA’s payments to Palestinians jailed by Israel for terrorism and violence, and to the families of dead terrorists.
The Palestinians have protested the law, refusing to receive any of the taxes Israel gathers for them on a monthly basis, as long as the Jewish state does not transfer them their full amount.
The taxes Israel collects and transfers to the PA make up hundreds of millions of shekels, more than half of its monthly budget.
France sent an official letter to Israel last week, urging Israel to “change your decision to freeze the transfer of tax funds to the Palestinian Authority,” Israel’s Channel 12 news reported on Sunday. Israel rejected the request as immoral and against the EU’s own laws.
PA Finance Minister Shukri Bishara announced recently that Ramallah had undertaken a a series of austerity measures to mitigate against the impact of the lack of funds on government operations, including the slashing of public employee salaries.
In March, many PA employees received only half of their salaries.
The World Bank warned last week of an economic crisis, if the issue is not resolved.
Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.