A Hamas source said Tuesday that part of the $100 million in tax revenues transferred by Israel to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas went to pay security services, including members of a Hamas-led force.
“The [Hamas] Executive Force was a part of the security services which received part of their salaries, just like the other forces,” the source said.
During his meeting with Abbas on Sunday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert asked him to account for how the revenues had been spent.
Israel opposed using the money to pay salaries, particularly to members of Hamas, whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel, government officials said.
Top aides to Abbas had no immediate comment.
“This flies in the face on what was agreed upon,” said an Israeli government official.
Under U.S. pressure, Israel transferred the $100 million to Abbas’s office in January.
Israeli officials said at the time that the money would be earmarked for humanitarian needs and programs to strengthen Abbas’s guard, and not to pay salaries.
A unity government deal reached last month between Abbas’ Fatah movement and the ruling Islamist Hamas was designed to end factional fighting between Hamas’ Executive Force and pro-Fatah security services such as Abbas’ presidential guard, but tensions remain high.
Since Hamas defeated Abbas’s Fatah movement in parliamentary elections in January 2006, Israel has been withholding tax revenues normally used by the Palestinian Authority to pay government workers.
Western powers have also frozen direct aid to the Hamas-led government, conditioning a resumption of funds on recognition of Israel, renunciation of violence and an agreement to abide by previous peace deals. Hamas has rejected these terms.