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Israel Suspends Palestinian Funds After UN Vote

RIA Novosti

16:29 02/12/2012

TEL AVIV, December 2 (RIA Novosti) – Israel is halting tax payments it collects for the Palestinians in response to their successful bid to raise their UN status, local media reported on Sunday, citing Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz.

"I have no intention of transferring the tax payments to the Palestinian Authority this month. I plan to use them to offset Palestinian debt to the Israel Electric Corporation," Steinitz said at the beginning of a weekly cabinet meeting.

“We have said from the beginning that the raising of the status of Palestine at the UN would produce a reaction from Israel.”

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that a total of 460 million shekels (about $120 million) would be withheld from the Palestinians.

The move comes after the UN General Assembly recognized on Thursday the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a non-member observer state.

The Palestinian bid, submitted by President Mahmoud Abbas, was approved by 138 UN members, while nine voted against and 41 abstained from voting. The bid faced fierce opposition from Israel and the United States.

The move amounts to an implicit recognition of the Palestinian statehood and increases PA’s chances of joining other UN bodies. It also allows the Palestinian Authority to challenge the continuing construction of Israeli settlements on the occupied Palestinian land in the International Criminal Court.

Abbas urged the UN General Assembly before the historic vote “to issue the birth certificate of Palestine."

He also reiterated that the Palestinians would continue their efforts to achieve a fully-recognized statehood.

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