PA says it can only pay 50% of public sector salaries this month as Finance Ministry still withholding tax revenues

The Palestinian Authority says it will only be able to pay a part of public sector salaries this week as the Finance Ministry is continuing to withhold tax revenues that it collects for Ramallah.

Channel 12 reported over the weekend that Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich had been holding NIS 170 million shekels ($46 million) in tax revenue for nine days, in protest of PA efforts “fighting against the State of Israel.” This was an apparent reference to reports that Ramallah has been pushing for the International Criminal Court to issue arrest warrants for top Israeli officials for alleged breaches of international law in Gaza during the ongoing war against Hamas.

The PA says it will pay public sector employees 50 percent of their March salaries on Tuesday, after Israel withheld the transfer due for the month of April, and that the arrears will be paid once the financial situation allows.

The Finance Ministry confirms it had been decided not to transfer tax revenues this month, but declines to provide details.

Israel collects hundreds of millions of shekels in Palestinian tax revenue, which Smotrich held up earlier in the war over concerns that the portion of the funds that Ramallah uses to pay for services and employees in Gaza — roughly NIS 260 million ($73 million) monthly — could wind up in the hands of Hamas.

Although Hamas wrested control of Gaza from the rival Fatah faction in 2007, the Palestinian Authority, which is dominated by Fatah, continues to fund some health and education services in the enclave.

An agreement was eventually reached in February to transfer the payments via Norway to ensure no money is diverted.

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