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US warns Israel against withholding Palestinian money

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Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide (Ap) announced on Wednesday that the government will recognize Palestine as a state. It provokes reactions in Israel. Photo: Erik Flaaris Johansen / NTB

Of NTB | 22.05.2024 21:20:31

Policy: Since February, Norway has been an intermediate station in an arrangement where Palestinian tax money collected by Israel is transferred to Palestinian self-governing authorities.

After Norway’s recognition of Palestine as a state on Wednesday, however, the arrangement is in danger. That causes the United States to react.

– I believe it is wrong on a strategic basis, because withholding money destabilizes the West Bank and undermines the work for security and prosperity for the Palestinian people – work that is in Israel’s interest. I think it’s wrong to withhold money that provides basic necessities and services to innocent people, says US national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

– It is very logical that the USA does this, because the USA and Norway jointly developed the arrangement to resolve a large and important tangle. Israel has withheld money that is legally Palestinian money, says Eide to NTB.

– The Palestinian Authority could not pay salaries, which became a very serious crisis. The US and Norway worked together to find a solution, so that you should punish Norway by withholding this money is quite strange. This is money that belongs to the Palestinians, continues the foreign minister.

– I think the Israelis will have significant problems with the Americans, Biden has been involved a lot in this, he says.

The Israeli handling of Palestinian tax money takes place in line with agreements concluded in the 1990s. After the attack on 7 October, however, the money transfers to the self-governing authorities in the West Bank were stopped by Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich. The agreement from February, where Norway is an intermediate station, got the transfers underway again.

After Wednesday’s Norwegian recognition of Palestine as a state, Smotrich announced that he would cancel this arrangement as a retaliation, reports the news agency AP.

– Norway was the first to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state today and cannot be a partner for anything to do with Judea and Samaria, wrote the far-right politician in a message on X/Twitter.

– Each country has the right to make its own decisions, but the US’s position is clear, he said.

Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide is not surprised by Sullivan’s actions. He says that President Joe Biden has got involved personally to get the scheme in place.

The decision by Norway, Ireland and Spain to recognize Palestine as a state was met with fury in Israel.

Security adviser Jake Sullivan also mentioned the three European countries’ recognition. He did not directly criticize the decision, saying that President Biden supports a two-state solution – but only after negotiations between the parties.

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