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Palestinian Official Claims U.S. Ordered Banks to Withhold Funds

Palestinian president vows to thwart Trump peace plan
DEBORAH DANAN

TEL AVIV – The U.S. has asked international banks to place a financial embargo on the Palestinian Authority in a bid to exert pressure on the Palestinians to accept the Trump administration’s long-awaited peace plan, a senior PA official claimed. 

“Major international financial institutions and parties have begun to accede to an American request to impose a tight financial siege on the Authority,” Hussein al-Sheikh told AFP in an Arabic-language interview published Sunday.

“Washington has asked for financial aid given to the Authority to be stopped, and it has also issued a circular to banks not to receive transfers for the Authority’s accounts.”

Al-Sheikh contended that “the sanctions began with preventing the transfer of an Iraqi grant worth $10 million, which was handed over to the Arab League recently. The League has not been able to transfer it because all banks have refused to accept it for transfer to the Authority’s finance ministry or the national fund.”

His comments came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to begin cutting funds owed to the PA in taxes and tariffs over its payments to convicted terrorists and their families within a week’s time.

Al-Sheikh said that “the American decision is in line with an Israeli decision” to cut the tax transfers. Those monies constitute more than 50 percent of the Palestinian treasury’s imports and about 70 percent of the PA’s current expenses, including the salaries of its employees, according to the Times of Israel.

He added: “The American and Israeli decisions come as part of an attempt to bring the leadership to its knees and force it to accept [President Donald Trump’s] ‘deal of the century,’ first by allowing for its announcement and second to pave the way to ‘Arabize’ it and begin the process of Arab normalization with Israel without [Israel giving] anything in return” to the Palestinians.

Al-Sheikh charged the U.S. and Israel with pushing PA President Mahmoud Abbas to what he described as “extreme decisions.”

He cited Abbas as having told Israel that if the latter deducts even “one penny” from tax monies owed to the PA, the PA would not accept any of the funds at all.

Al-Sheikh added that any spare monies would first go to terrorists.

The PA will “not allow any act of piracy against our money under the pretext of implementing Israeli law. We affirm that if we have one dollar, we will spend it on the families of our martyrs and prisoners,” he said.

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