PA says Israel yet to approve transfer of tax money via Norway

Gianluca Pacchiani is the Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh addressing a press conference in Ramallah on March 29, 2020. (Wafa)
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh addressing a press conference in Ramallah on March 29, 2020. (Wafa)

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh says Israel has not yet authorized the transfer of funds through Norway for the Palestinian Authority.

On January 21, under heavy US pressure, the Israeli cabinet approved a plan to transfer to Norway tax funds that it collects on behalf of the PA, after Jerusalem had been withholding the money out of concern that it could reach Hamas in Gaza. According to the trilateral agreement, Oslo was then supposed to send the sum to Ramallah when Israel was satisfied it would not go to Hamas.

In a PA cabinet meeting today, Shtayyeh says that “there is no agreement between Israel and Norway for the transfer of the funds,” adding that the idea of using the Scandinavian country as an intermediary has not solved the problem.

It is unclear whether the sum is still in Israel’s coffers, or whether it has already been been handed to Oslo but Jerusalem is opposing its transfer to Ramallah.

Shtayyeh’s claim has not yet been confirmed by Israel, nor has a reason been given for Israel’s apparent refusal to proceed with the deal.

The office of Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Shtayyeh adds that even though it has not received the funds, the PA will pay out salaries to civil servants within the next two days. Over the past years, the Ramallah government has regularly been forced to make cuts to the wages it pays to its employees due to its dire financial situation and deductions imposed by Israel.

Most Popular