Israel has transferred last week a sum of 50 million shekels from the withheld Palestinian tax funds to Palestinian hospitals in East Jerusalem. This sum is given in addition to the 100 million shekels promised by Prime Minister Olmert to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Sources within the Prime Minister’s Office said that the funds were transferred to hospitals in East Jerusalem who treat the Palestinian population from the West Bank and who are on the verge of financial collapse. These hospitals have not paid salaries for months, the medical equipment is old and broken, and they suffer from severe management problems.
Some of the funds were transferred in the form of cash directly to the bank accounts of the hospitals for the purpose of paying salaries for the employees so they could provide good service, and for the purchase of medicine. The remainder of the money was transferred in the form of new medical equipment equivalent to the rest of the amount.
Currently, the talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are continuing regarding the establishment of a mechanism which will oversee the transfer of the 100 million shekels promised by Olmert to Abbas.
Israel is currently waiting for a detailed list from the Palestinians regarding the final destination of the funds and the methods they will use to ensure the funds do not end up in the hands of Palestinian terror elements. The Palestinians have agreed to the terms and Israel is currently waiting for the list.
Since the rise of Hamas to power almost a year ago, Israel has frozen approximately 600 million shekels in tax funds collected by Israel belonging to the Palestinian Authority. Israel has so far refused to release the funds to the PA, claiming it will be given to Hamas and used to fund and execute terrorism. During the latest meeting between Olmert and Abbas, PM Olmert decided to give a portion of the funds to President Abbas for the purpose of strengthening him at the expense of Hamas.