Israel Resource Review 19th Febuary, 2009


Challenge To New Israeli Government
David Bedein

On February 5, outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ordered 170 million shekels, the equivalent of $43 million, to be transferred to Gaza.

Mr. Olmert said the funds represented an Israeli commitment to divert tax revenue to cover Palestinian Authority (PA) salaries for its officials in Gaza.

However, The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) has issued a detailed report titled, "Can the Palestinian Authority's Fatah Forces Retake Gaza: Obstacles and Opportunities," documenting how the PA has misused international donor funds, which now likely includes Israeli cash transfers to the Hamas in Gaza.

The Jerusalem Center, run by former Israeli U.N. Ambassador Dore Gold, says the PA has directed cash transfers to pay monthly salaries of up to 12,000 Hamas Executive operatives. The cash dispursements come despite the ongoing state of war between the Palestinian Islamist group and the State of Israel.

The JCPA report, authored by Dan Diker and Khaled Abu-Toameh, reveals that Hamas salaries are paid on the instructions of PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

This report may have wide ranging criminal implications for the new Israeli government, because Israeli counterterrorism law forbids any public or private concern from providing financial aid to any terrorist entity.

Israeli government sources defend cash transfers to pay salaries in Gaza, saying that the U.S. State Department has insisted that Israel transfer these funds to Gaza.

However, strict American counterterrorism laws also forbid any public or private concern from providing financial aid to any terrorist entity.

"It is widely believed that the PA in Ramallah only pays the salaries of civil service employees in Gaza to encourage them to stay at home to avoid working with Hamas," the report said. "However, PA Prime Minister Fayyad also pays the monthly salaries of between 6,000 and 12,000 Hamas Executive Force operatives in Gaza, in line with the 2007 Mecca national unity agreement."

The JCPA report shows that the PA has been paying armed Hamas terror groups as a part of theMecca Accord, a reconciliation agreement reached between the Fatah and the Hamas in March 2007. That accord remains intact. The salaries, transferred in cash by the Israeli government, have continued to be paid despite Hamas' complete armed takeover of Gaza in June 2007.

The cash transfers continued even through the Hamas-Israel war in -January 2009. The report would seem to implicate the Israeli government for funding the PA's direct financial support of the elements of the Iranian backed Hamas terror group that the Israeli Defense Forces was battling in Gaza .

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