G7 leaders warn Israel against ‘actions that weaken the PA,’ urge release of tax revenues

The Group of Seven nations warn Israel to stop any “actions that weaken the Palestinian Authority,” after far-right Israeli leaders moved to withhold tax funds from the fledgling Palestinian government in the West Bank.

The statement is made in the final communique from the G7 leading industrialized nations summit in Italy.

Under interim peace accords in the 1990s, Israel collects tax revenue on behalf of the Palestinians, and it has used the money as a tool to pressure the Palestinian Authority, which administers some parts of the West Bank. Hamas violently expelled the PA from Gaza in 2007.

The G7 calls on Israel to release tax revenues in light of the PA’s “urgent fiscal needs.” The leaders also demanded Israel “remove or relax other measures to avoid further exacerbating the economic situation in the West Bank.”

The statement came a day after Israel’s firebrand finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, said he would reroute some of the funds earmarked for the PA to victims of terrorism in Israel.

After the October 7 Hamas attack that triggered the war in Gaza, Smotrich froze the tax revenue transfers. But Israel agreed to send the money to Norway, which transferred it to the PA.

Smotrich has said he is ending that arrangement and is pursuing other financial measures that would handicap the PA’s already-waning ability to pay salaries to thousands of employees.

In the joint communique, the G7 leaders stress their backing of an Israeli hostage-for-ceasefire proposal that US President Joe Biden is pushing and call on Hamas to agree to the deal, which the terror group has rejected without an upfront Israeli pledge to end the war.

They also say they’re “particularly concerned by the situation” along the Israel-Lebanon border, amid intensifying fighting between Israel and Hezbollah.

We recognize the essential stabilizing role played by the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in mitigating that risk,” the statement says, while omitting any mention of Hezbollah.

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