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Steinitz, Geithner agree to establish joint forum monitoring Iran economy

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz at a meeting with U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner agreed to establish a bilateral forum that would periodically assess the effects of sanctions on Iran.

Steinitz at the meeting Monday said Israel believed further sanctions were necessary along with a credible military threat to persuade Iran to shut down its suspected nuclear weapons program.

"It was agreed at the meeting that a permanent American-Israel forum would be established that will periodically assess the effect of sanctions on the Iranian economy and would review ways to increase the economic pressure," a statement from Steinitz’s office said.

Steinitz also outlined at the meeting Israel’s policies on transferring funds to the Palestinians. He had threatened to stop transferring taxes to the Palestinians should they seek enhanced status at the United Nations. Subsequent to the Nov. 29 General Assembly vote making the Palestinians a non-member state, however, Steinitz withheld only $180 million to cover Palestinian debts to Israel’s electricity provider while continuing other payments.

At the meeting, Steinitz also thanked Geithner for extending $4 billion in U.S. loan guarantees.