Israel owes Palestinians nearly $400 million
Palestinian finance minister Mohammed Zuhdi Nashashibi denounced Israel Tuesday for not handing over almost $400 million in customs duties and tax revenues owed to the Palestinian Authority.
The Palestinian Authority expected to receive the funds during a Tuesday meeting with Israeli finance ministry officials.
"This measure shows that Israel wants to continue to freeze our money and this is a violation of all our economic agreements," Nashashibi said. No Israeli official was available for immediate comment.
Israel collects customs duties and taxes on imported goods for the Palestinian Authority, but has frozen money transfers for most of the four-month Palestinian intifada or uprising.
The Israelis have paid the Palestinians only nine million of the $400 million owed since the start of the intifada, a finance ministry official said.
The uprising has claimed almost 400 lives, mostly Palestinian, and been accompanied by an Israeli blockade on the Palestinian territories.
The Israeli transfer of customs and tax revenues would have followed last week's marathon peace talks at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Taba, which ended with the Palestinians and Israelis proclaiming they were closer to peace than ever before.
In a report published earlier this month, the United Nations said the Palestinian economy had lost some $500 million during the first 60 days of the violence and that unemployment was now running at 40 percent. — (AFP, Gaza City)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)