To pay the salaries of Palestinian civil servants, $23 million will be transfered from Israel to the Gaza Strip, said Israeli sources.
In his statement to public radio on Tuesday, Matan Vilnai, the deputy defence minister, did not specify how the transfer would be carried out.
“These funds will be transferred by the Palestinian Authority of Mahmud Abbas. They are for paying the salaries of Abbas’s people”, he said.
Mr Vilnai said that the transfer would be carried out according to “arrangements concluded with Mahmud Abbas”, adding that the funds would not fall into the hands of Hamas, which seized power in Gaza in June 2007.
But the transfer has been denounced by Yaacov Edri, the minister of immigrant absorption, who said that Hamas would used the funds for “terrorist operations”.
Each month, $75 million are transfered by Isreal to the Palestinian Authority (PA), in taxes and customs duties it collects on behalf of the Palestinians.
In the occupied West Bank and Gaza, the funds are used to pay the more than 160,000 civil servants.
In the same time, a peace plan has been offered to the Palestinians by Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, that would give them 93 per cent of the occupied West Bank, said the Israeli daily Haaretz.
The report says that the proposed border is at the heart of a broader plan that would compensate the Palestinians with the equivalent of 5.5 per cent of the West Bank adjacent to the Gaza Strip and a route connecting Gaza to the West Bank itself.
Yet, it is only once its forces retake the Gaza Strip from Hamas, which seized power in the coastal territory in June 2007, that the PA would receive the land and the overland connection.
The proposal has been offered in the context of US-backed peace talks relaunched in November with the goal of resolving the decades-old conflict by the end of the year.
But according to Haaretz, the proposed agreement would be a “shelf agreement” to be implemented in the coming months and years, and the thorny issue of the future status of Jerusalem would not immediately be included.
In the 1967 Six Day War, Israel annexed Jerusalem and considers the entire Holy City its “eternal, undivided” capital. But the international community doesn’t recognise that claim, while the Palestinians have demanded mostly Arab east Jerusalem.
The Palestinian refugee problem would find a complex solution in the agreement : some refugees from the 1948 war would be allowed to return to Israel, while most of the 4.5 million refugees would be settled of in the Palestinian state.
The major settlement blocs around Jerusalen, home to most of the 250 000 Israeli settlers in the territory, as well as some settlements in the northern West Bank would be included in the seven per cent of the West Bank annexed by Israel.
The final Palestinian state would be demilitarised.