Israel to release 33 mln USD to Palestinian Authority amid coronavirus outbreak

Israel has decided to transfer around 33 million U.S. dollars to the Palestinian Authority to stem the COVID-19 outbreak, Palestinian sources said Sunday.

The decision came following a meeting between Palestinian and Israeli finance ministers last week over the means to fight COVID-19, according to the sources.

Palestinian government spokesperson Ibrahim Milhem confirmed to reporters earlier that the two sides were in contact with regards to the Palestinian tax revenues withheld by Israel.

“There are talks, but we have not received any money yet,” said Milhem. “Those have been withheld by Israel and it is our right not a grant from anybody.”

Meanwhile, the Israeli public radio reported that Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon agreed to send the Palestinian Authority’s tax revenues, as urgent financial aid in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Israeli radio reported that the move was recommended by the Israeli army.

Palestinian Minister of Finance Shukri Bishara met with his Israeli counterpart Kahlon last week over the issue of Palestinian tax revenues withheld by Israel and the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Israel has been withholding the money it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority over its payment to the families of jailed and slain Palestinians, the last sum of the withheld money, 43 million U.S. dollars, was approved by the Israeli cabinet in January.

Palestine has stepped up its measures to fight the coronavirus after the total number of confirmed cases reached 59.

On March 5, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared a state of emergency for one month after the first COVID-19 case was discovered in the city of Bethlehem.