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Israel transfers over $1 billion in tax revenues to Palestinians

The Palestinian Authority suspended the transfers in May, worsening the cash-strapped government's financial woes.

Israel has transferred more than $1 billion in tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinians, officials said Wednesday, six months after the Palestinian Authority cut off the financial lifeline to protest Israel’s planned annexation of the West Bank. 

Hussein al-Sheikh, the Palestinian Authority’s civil affairs minister, tweeted Wednesday that “the #Israeli government transfers all financial dues of the clearance to the account of the #Palestinian Authority, amounting to three billion and 768 million shekels.” 

The Israeli government collects tax revenues on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank under an arrangement spelled out in the Oslo accords. With each transfer, Israel deducts a sum equal to what the Palestinian Authority pays monthly to Palestinians who are jailed for terrorist activity in Israel and their families. 

Palestinian leaders said they would no longer accept the revenue transfers from Israel in May, in protest of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned annexation of large portions of the West Bank, an area that the Palestinians envision as part of their future independent state. 

Critics of the move said ordinary Palestinians suffered the consequences. Without the payments, which represent about 60% of the Palestinian Authority's budget, the Palestinian leadership has struggled to pay the salaries of tens of thousands of public-sector employees. 

Netanyahu’s annexation plans were put on hold in August as part of Israel’s US-brokered normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Two months later, the Palestinian Authority announced it would be resuming civil and security cooperation with Israel. 

Reuters reports that Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said this week that his government would pay all 130,000 Palestinian employees their full wages once the tax money from Israel was received.