Reuters (Analysis)
November 14, 2011 - 1:00am

Israel's cabinet decided on Monday to continue to withhold the transfer of tax revenues owed to the Palestinian Authority, a measure it imposed two weeks ago after the Palestinians won full membership of the UN cultural agency.

A government official said cabinet ministers voted narrowly in favor of continuing the freeze on the handover of revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.

The money, which includes duties on goods being imported to the Palestinian territories, amounts to about $100 million each month.

In reaction to the initial decision to withhold funds by Israel, secretary-general of the PLO Yasser Abed Rabbo told Palestine Radio that Israel was striving to "destroy the role of the Palestinian National Authority."

Israeli media earlier on Monday had said that an Israeli diplomatic cabinet meeting was expected to approve the release of Palestinian tax revenues, with security officials reportedly in favor of continuing funds to the PA, Haaretz reported.

The decision to continue the revenue block is the second time this year that Israel has withheld the revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. Israel froze fund transfers earlier this year when Abbas concluded a reconciliation agreement with Hamas.

The temporary freeze resulted in the PA not being able to pay salaries to its 150,000 employees on time for the first time since 2007.

Palestine overcame US and Israeli opposition to join the UN cultural body on Oct. 31, with UNESCO saying that 107 member states voted in favor and 14 states voted against, with 52 abstentions.


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