Saturday, May 7, 2011

Israel urged to free Palestinian funds

A recent photo of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

Source: Press TV

The UN has called on the Israeli regime to release tax revenues collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, after Tel Aviv blocked the funds following a unity pact between main Palestinian Fatah and Hamas factions.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday that Tel Aviv should not withhold tax revenues from the Palestinian Authority over the recent reconciliation of the two influential groups.

"The Secretary General ... noted that Palestinian unity is a process which is just beginning now, and thus, it would be best to assess it as it moves forward," Reuters quoted the UN chief as saying in a telephone conversation with Netanyahu on Friday.

"He also urged Israel not to stop transferring tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority," the report added.

On Sunday, Israel blocked the transfer of $105 million in customs duties and other levies it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority after a reconciliation pact was inked between Palestinian Hamas and Fatah factions.

Ban said that "he was convinced that realizing a negotiated two-state solution as soon as possible is in the best interest of both the Israeli and Palestinian people."

He also “hoped Israel will make decisive moves towards a historic agreement with the Palestinians."

The UN chief reiterated that the United Nations has consistently supported the idea of a Palestinian unity.

Khaled Meshaal, Hamas' political chief, and Mahmoud Abbas, the acting chief of the Palestinian Authority -- dominated by Fatah -- endorsed an understanding deal the representatives of the two sides had reached late last month in Cairo.

Ban further reaffirmed UN support for Palestinian unity and has said that he will study the unity deal carefully.

The Israeli premier had earlier said he would not negotiate with the Palestinian Authority under the reconciliation deal with Hamas.

Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority have been on hold since they were resumed in Washington in late September after Tel Aviv refused to extend a 10-month partial freeze on Israeli settlement activities.

The Palestinians have repeatedly announced that they will not resume talks with Tel Aviv while Israeli settlement expansion continues on occupied territories.

Israel has condemned the unity pact as a “tremendous blow to peace.” Hamas flags have been flowing across the West Bank for the first time in several years, following the reconciliation agreement.

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