JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a Knesset committee that he could release frozen Palestinian Authority funds soon.
Netanyahu reportedly told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday that he is reconsidering holding $100 million in Palestinian tax revenues collected by Israel since the Palestinians have halted their bid to be accepted into international organizations.
Israel has been withholding the tax payments collected on the Palestinians’ behalf since the Palestinians were accepted as a full member of UNESCO, the United Nations scientific and cultural agency. It has continued to withhold them over Fatah-Hamas unity talks.
On Sunday, PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said that Israel’s suspension of transferring the tax revenue has had a "devastating impact" on the Palestinian economy. He told The Associated Press that he will be unable to pay the salaries of tens of thousands of civil servants.
A Netanyahu aide told the Israeli daily Haaretz that Israel does not want to bring about the collapse of the Palestinian Authority, which is one reason that the prime minister is considering releasing the funds.
Meanwhile, May 4 has been set as the date for general Palestinian elections in the West Bank and Gaza, according to reports. PA President Mahmoud Abbas announced the date Monday during a meeting in Vienna.