Israel’s National Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, expressed his support for Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s choice to suspend tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Ben-Gvir said the PA is an ally of Hamas and claimed it backs the Palestinian group’s surprise attack on Oct. 7 against a region of Israel surrounding the Gaza Strip, the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported.
He also said the PA is not an alternative to Hamas but an ally which does not deserve to receive the money.
On Monday, Smotrich froze the transfer of tax revenues amounting to some $188 million monthly to the Palestinian Authority, according to Israeli media.
He said the funds will be withheld over the failure of the Ramallah-based authority to condemn Hamas’s cross-border attack, which triggered the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, however, opposed Smotrich’s decision to freeze the funds to the PA, which he said is curbing activities against Israel.
“It is appropriate to transfer, and transfer immediately, the funds to the Palestinian Authority so that they will be used by its forces that help prevent terrorism,” Gallant said at a press conference.
The tax revenues – known in Palestine and Israel as maqasa – are collected by the Israeli government on behalf of the PA on Palestinian imports and exports. Israel in return earns a commission of 3% of collected revenues.
The tax revenues collected are estimated to total around $188 million every month and represent the main source of income for the PA.
The Israeli army has widened its air and ground attacks on the Gaza Strip, which has been under relentless airstrikes since the surprise offensive by Hamas on Oct. 7.
More than 10,300 people have since been killed in the conflict, including at least 8,796 Palestinians and more than 1,538 Israelis, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.