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Israel to release Palestinian funds

Israel is prepared to transfer withheld tax revenues to the Palestinians provided no money reaches the Hamas-led government. Israeli officials said Thursday that Israel would release the estimated $700 million once a mechanism was in place with safeguards to ensure none of it reaches terrorist elements, Reuters reported. Israel stopped transfers of the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinians after Hamas won parliamentary elections in January 2006.Israel increasingly has found itself isolated on this issue, as the United States and Europe have moved to allow funds to be transferred to the Palestinians under restricted conditions. “We’re not against releasing the funds. We’re prepared to transfer them,” an official in Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s office said. “But we need a mechanism to make sure the money doesn’t go to the terrorist organizations and the government in which Hamas participates.”