On Thursday, the Norwegian foreign minister announced that Norway would serve as a mediator to facilitate the release of tax funds allocated for the Palestinian Authority (PA) that Israel currently freezes.
According to the interim peace accords established in the 1990s, the responsibility of collecting taxes on behalf of the Palestinians and making monthly transfers to the PA lies with Israel’s finance ministry. However, there have been no payments made since November due to the conflict that arose between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip in October.
The Israeli Cabinet approved the Proposal to Transfer the Funds to Norway.
Israeli officials announced on January 21 that the Israeli Cabinet had given its approval to a proposal where the frozen tax funds allocated for the Gaza Strip will be entrusted to Norway instead of being transferred to the PA.
Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide announced on Thursday that Norway has agreed to facilitate the transfer of the tax funds, although the details are still being finalized.
Efforts are currently being made to establish the groundwork for a potential solution. We are presently engaged in discussions with both the Israeli and Palestinian authorities, as well as other relevant parties,” Barth Eide informed Reuters, refraining from providing additional information.
He expressed significant worry regarding the PA’s financial condition, which he characterized as “serious.”
Moreover, the freeze threatens the PA’s capacity to deliver essential services, such as compensating healthcare professionals and educators, among various others,” he stated.
Gaining access to this income is crucial for the PA’s survival, as it operates with restricted self-governance in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Many Western nations, including the United States, are advocating for the involvement of the PA in the governance of the Gaza Strip in the event that the war concludes.
Norway’s Role Is Very Difficult to Overemphasize
Norway is actively involved in a global initiative to establish a comprehensive Palestinian unity government, with the support of Western nations who envision the Palestinian Authority playing a crucial role in its formation.
The nation played a crucial role in the 1992 to 1993 negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, which resulted in the historic Oslo Accords of 1993.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that the Cabinet’s resolution regarding the tax funds received backing from Norway and the United States, who will act as guarantors to ensure the framework’s stability.
Netanyahu’s offices have stated that the funds, or any comparable amount, will not be transferred under any circumstances unless approved by the Israeli finance minister and not through a third party.
The Palestine Liberation Organization stated on Sunday its desire to receive the total amount of money without any conditions that would hinder its ability to compensate its employees, including those in Gaza.
“We strongly oppose any reductions to our financial entitlements or any restrictions imposed by Israel that hinder the PA’s ability to provide for our citizens in the Gaza Strip,” expressed Hussein Al-Sheikh, the secretary-general of the executive committee of the PLO, on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
No Money for Gaza
A representative for Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who leads a right-wing, pro-settlement party, verified that Norway would retain the funds as part of the agreement.
“No money will be allocated to Gaza,” stated Smotrich, who has consistently opposed the transfer of funds to the PA.