After report of US pressure, Smotrich repeats refusal to transfer ‘single shekel’ of tax funds to PA for Gaza

Sam Sokol is the Times of Israel's political correspondent. He was previously a reporter for the Jerusalem Post, Jewish Telegraphic Agency and Haaretz. He is the author of "Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews"

Hard-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich reiterates his refusal to allow the transfer of Palestinian tax funds to Gaza, telling public broadcaster Kan that he “appreciates the support of the United States and President [Joe] Biden very much but as long as I am the finance minister, we will not transfer a single shekel to the Palestinian Authority that will go to the families of the terrorists and Nazis in Gaza.”

Israel recently warned it will not allow the PA to transfer funds earmarked for services and salaries in the Gaza Strip, alleging the money could reach Hamas while Israel is at war with the terror group.

Smotrich’s comment comes in response to a report that the White House is pressuring Israel to release the funds, warning the government that continuing to withhold the monthly tax revenues it collects on Ramallah’s behalf could lead to the collapse of the PA.

An Israeli official tells Kan that the US has been sending the message that “this must happen, otherwise the authority will collapse financially. We must find a solution… these funds need to be released to the Palestinian people. They benefit the Palestinian people and help stabilize the situation in Judea and Samaria, which also benefits Israel.”

Last week Biden reportedly took Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to task over the issue during what was described as a “frustrating” phone call by US news site Axios.

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