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Israel transfers money to Palestinian Authority

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Palestinians in Ramallah demonstrate against the high cost of living. The signs read, “Why does our government force us to rummage for food? No to raising prices.” [Flash90 photo]

JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the transfer of some $63 million to the Palestinian Authority to help ease its economic crisis.

The transfer on Sept. 11 came after Netanyahu consulted on the issue with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, and then asked his special envoy, Isaac Molho, to co-ordinate with the Palestinian leadership, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.

The money is an advance on tax revenues collected for the PA by Israel.

“We are working on several fronts in order to help the Palestinian Authority cope with its economic problems,” Netanyahu said on Sept. 11, during a meeting with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov. “We have made several changes in the taxation agreements. We are advancing certain transfers. We have also helped with Palestinian workers and with a series of other steps in order to make things easier for them.

“Of course, there is a global reality and it is also related to the internal management of every economy, but for our part we are making efforts to help the Palestinian Authority survive this crisis. I hope that they will succeed in doing so. This is in our common interest.”

Palestinians have been staging demonstrations in the streets of the West Bank recently to protest the extreme economic hardship. The protests turned violent and destructive on Sept. 10, with thousands of protesters burning tires and attacking police in Hebron and Nablus. Protesters also reportedly smashed the windows of the municipal building and a police station in Hebron. Palestinian taxi, truck and bus drivers staged a one-day strike on Sept. 10.

Civil servants did not receive paycheques for the month of August.

PA Prime Minister Salam Fayad announced measures to ease the economic hardship, including lowering the value-added tax and prices on diesel, gas and kerosene.

Israeli officials are concerned that the unrest over economics and frustration with the Palestinian leadership could turn into a third intifadah directed at Israel, Reuters reported.

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