“UN faults Israel for halt in funds to Palestinians,” from Reuters, with thanks to Report:
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – The U.N. envoy to the Middle East raised objections on Monday to Israel’s decision to withhold tax funds from the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority after a Hamas-led parliament was sworn in.
Special Envoy Alvaro de Soto called the decision unhelpful and premature. Israel has long regarded the U.N. as a minor player in the Middle East peace process compared to the United States, which gave a low-key response to Israel’s move.
“These are monies that belong to the Palestinians and should not be withheld,” de Soto told Reuters one day after Israel’s cabinet announced a permanent halt to the monthly transfer of about $50 million in tax revenues Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinians.
Israel’s government made the decision after Washington, the Jewish state’s biggest ally, asked the Palestinian Authority to return $50 million of its own aid to ensure it does not reach Hamas. The Islamic group is sworn to Israel’s destruction.
But de Soto said Israel’s decision to withhold the money ran counter to the position taken last month by the so-called Quartet of major peace mediators “” the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia.