Israel Approves Plan to Redirect Gaza Funds through Norway

Cabinet decision shifts frozen tax funds away from Hamas-run Gaza, utilizing Norway as an intermediary.

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Cabinet decision shifts frozen tax funds away from Hamas-run Gaza, utilizing Norway as an intermediary.

Israel’s cabinet has given approval to a plan redirecting frozen tax funds earmarked for the Hamas-run Gaza Strip through Norway instead of transferring them to the Palestinian Authority (PA), according to officials on Sunday.

As per the interim peace accords established in the 1990s, Israel’s finance ministry collects taxes on behalf of the Palestinians and routinely transfers the funds to the Western-backed PA, which exercises limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. However, ongoing disputes, including Israel’s insistence that the funds do not reach Hamas, have persisted.

Hamas took control of Gaza from the Western-backed PA in 2007, following a brief civil war and two years after Israel withdrew settlers and military forces. Despite the change in control, many PA public sector employees in Gaza continued to receive their salaries from the transferred tax revenues.

The recent decision by Israel’s cabinet regarding the tax funds has gained support from Norway and the United States, with the latter serving as a guarantor for the framework’s adherence, as announced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The statement from Netanyahu’s office clarified that the funds, or any equivalent, will not be transferred “in any situation, except with the approval of the Israeli finance minister, and also not through a third party.”

In response, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) expressed its desire for the full amount and rejected any conditions preventing the PA from paying its staff, including those in Gaza. Hussein Al-Sheikh, Secretary-General of the Executive Committee of the PLO, stated on social media platform X that any deductions from their financial rights or conditions imposed by Israel would be rejected.

A spokesperson for Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich confirmed that Norway would hold the funds under this new arrangement. Smotrich, known for his opposition to transferring funds to the PA, emphasized that “Not one shekel will go to Gaza.”