PA pays 80% of employees salaries after Israel releases funds — official

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

The Palestinian Authority was able to pay its employees 80 percent of their salaries this month after Israel partially released hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax revenues it had been withholding since April, a PA official tells The Times of Israel.

Palestinian public sector employees were receiving roughly half of their salaries for at least the past three months, as Israel’s withholding of tax revenues brought the PA to the brink of financial collapse.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich agreed to release the funds after Israel’s security cabinet approved a series of sanctions against the PA and measures to expand Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The PA official says the partial release of the tax revenues provides some financial breathing room to Ramallah for the first time since the outbreak of the war when Israel first began withholding tax revenues and denying entry permits to some 150,000 Palestinians working in Israel and the settlements.

However, the PA official stresses that Israel is still withholding roughly half of the monthly tax revenue transfers, which prevents Ramallah from paying its employees their full salaries employees.

Moreover, the PA fears that it could find itself in the same dire position it was in several weeks ago if Smotrich chooses to again hold the tax revenue transfers “for ransom” in subsequent months, the official says, urging the Biden administration to pressure Israel to commit to permanently transferring the funds in full.

The tax revenues make up 70% of the PA’s annual income.

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