Israel has seized more than $120m (£75m)in tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in response to last week’s overwhelming vote at the UN general assembly to recognise the state of Palestine. The move came as the PA president, Mahmoud Abbas, returned to cheering crowds in Ramallah in the West Bank following Thursday’s vote, in which 138 countries backed enhanced “non-member state” status for Palestine. Only nine countries opposed the move and 41 abstained. The financial sanction is Israel’s second punitive response to the vote. On Friday, it announced a big settlement expansion programme. An Israeli official said Israel was entitled to deduct the sum from a debt of more than $200m (£125m) owed by the PA to the Israel Electric Corporation. But he conceded that the move was in response to the UN vote, and that it could be repeated next month. “A lot depends on what the Palestinians do or don’t do,” he said. The Israeli finance minister, Yuval Steinitz, told Israel Radio: “I do not intend this month to transfer the funds to the Palestinians. In the coming period I intend to use the money to deduct debts the PA owes to the Israel Electric Corporation… Read full this story
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