JERUSALEM (JTA) — United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to hand over tax monies collected for the Palestinian Authority.
Ban in a phone call Tuesday also told Netanyahu to stop building in Jewish settlements.
Israel transfers to the Palestinian Authority about $100 million in tax payments collected on the Palestinians’ behalf each month.
"The secretary-general appealed to Prime Minister Netanyahu to immediately resume the transfer of Palestinian tax and customs revenues, in line with Israel’s legal obligations," Ban’s spokesman, Martin Nesirky, told the French news agency AFP. "He also expressed his deep concern about Israel’s announcement of further settlement expansions, including in east Jerusalem, which undermine current peace efforts and violate international law."
Netanyahu and his inner Cabinet of eight ministers in a meeting Sunday decided to continue the suspension that began early this month, shortly after the Palestinians were admitted as a full member of UNESCO, the U.N.’s scientific and cultural agency. The suspension will continue, according to Haaretz, due to new movement between Hamas and Fatah to form a unity government.
The defense establishment, including Minister of Defense Ehud Barak, has called for the payments to be reinstated. Israeli security services reportedly have argued that withholding the funds, which go in part to pay Palestinian police officers, could hamper security arrangements in the West Bank.