In a clear indication of a desire to ease tensions with the Palestinians and Washington, Israel announced on Friday that it would resume the transfer of tax revenue to the Palestinian Authority, three months after suspending the payments in response to the Palestinian move to join the International Criminal Court.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel approved the recommendation of his defense minister, Moshe Yaalon, and of the Israeli military and Shin Bet internal security agency to transfer the withheld funds “based on humanitarian concerns and in overall consideration of Israel’s interests at this time,” according to a statement from Mr. Netanyahu’s office.
Israel collects more than $100 million a month on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. Its impoundment of the money had intensified the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The money will be transferred minus payments for services rendered to the Palestinian population such as electricity, water and hospitalization, Israel said.
Mr. Netanyahu said in the statement, “Given the deteriorating situation in the Middle East, one must act responsibly and with due consideration alongside a determined struggle against extremist elements.”
The tax revenue makes up a significant portion of the Palestinian budget. In the last few months the Palestinian Authority has been able to pay only partial salaries to its tens of thousands of employees, and senior Israeli military officials have warned that the economic crisis could destabilize the occupied West Bank.
The decision to resume the transfer came after Mr. Netanyahu’s conservative Likud Party won a decisive victory in the March 17 elections and amid a worsening crisis in Israel’s relations with the Obama administration. Tensions have arisen in part over contradictory statements by Mr. Netanyahu about his support for a Palestinian state, a cornerstone of American policy in the Middle East.
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