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Israel begins PA tax handovers

Israel handed over some part of the Palestinian Authority tax revenues it had been withholding. Officials said Monday that Israel had transferred some $120 million to the new Palestinian Authority government set up by President Mahmoud Abbas after he broke with Hamas last month. Israel, which collects some $50 million in customs dues every month on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, began withholding the money after Hamas swept Palestinian Authority elections in January 2006. The funds have accrued and now amount to upward of $700 million. Israeli officials said they expect the remainder of the money to be handed over in stages over the next six months under a mechanism meant to ensure that none of it reaches Hamas. Israel also said it will resume its monthly tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority this week.