Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich in Jerusalem, May 30, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Calling its members “Nazis,” Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich on Sunday rejected the idea that Israel will transfer tax money to the Palestinian Authority, putting a kibosh on reports of an agreement to do so the day before.
In a video he released from Psagot, a Jewish town overlooking Ramallah, Smotrich said that the agreement—reached with the aid of U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, who visited the P.A. on Dec. 15 as part of his Mideast trip—would not come to pass.
“If there is anyone who thinks that we will hand over a shekel to the Nazis in Ramallah so that they can hand it over to the Nazis in Gaza—he doesn’t know where he’s living,” Smotrich said.
Pointing towards Ramallah, he said, “Every evening there are marches by Hamas supporters here, who support the terrible massacre carried out by Hamas-ISIS in Gaza. Psagot will not be Be’eri, Kfar Saba will not be Kfar Aza.” (The kibbutzim Be’eri and Kfar Aza were two of the southern Israeli communities that bore the brunt of the Hamas attack on Oct. 7.)
“Ramallah is 10 minutes from Jerusalem,” he said, adding that its residents share the same hostility towards Israel and Jews as do those of the Gaza Strip. “We understand very well what is happening here and listen to the mosques here night after night. We are done napping.”
According to the U.S.-brokered agreement between Israel and the P.A., Israel would transfer the tax money after it had checked the names of the recipients of P.A. salaries on a list the P.A. would provide.
Israel said the list includes Hamas members. P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas insists that since 2007, members of Hamas have been removed from the list of those receiving P.A. salaries.
Israel collects tax revenues on behalf of the P.A. on Palestinian imports and exports. On Oct. 30, Smotrich froze the transfer of those taxes, which amount to some $188 million monthly, citing the P.A.’s failure to condemn the Oct. 7 attack.
“The P.A. has once again proven the fact, about which we have been raising our voices for years, that it is a terror-supporting organization,” Smotrich wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, listing 12 inflammatory statements P.A. officials made in the wake of the massacre.