Israel has approved a new payment exceeding $140 million to the Palestinian Authority after announcing it had also released some funds that were previously frozen due to the Gaza war, a spokesperson for the finance ministry said on Thursday.

Since the start of the conflict, far-right Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has withheld payments of customs and tax duties to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s administration.

But Israeli officials said on Wednesday that the government had made a 435 million shekel ($116 million) payment for duties collected for April and May.

A finance ministry spokeswoman told Agence France-Presse (AFP) a further payment of about 530 million shekels for duties collected for June was approved.

Israel collects tax and customs duties for the Palestinian Authority under a 1994 protocol, which granted sole control over the territories’ borders to Israel.

According to economists, the payments collected by Israel account for 60% of the cash-strapped authority’s revenues.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Mustafa confirmed the 435 million shekel payment at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

He said the money would be used for unpaid wages for tens of thousands of Palestinian civil servants and suppliers.

Authority workers have been living on reduced wages for months and the PA has made repeated appeals for international aid.

Mustafa added that Israel still owed the authority 6 billion shekels in back payments.

Israel stopped making the payments after the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks in southern Israel, with Smotrich accusing the PA of backing the resistance group. Hamas is distinct from the Palestinian Authority.

The Palestinian death toll from Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza has crossed the grim milestone of 38,000, local health authorities said on Thursday.

Over eight months into the Israeli war, vast tracts of Gaza lie in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine.

Hamas took over Gaza in 2007 following a struggle with Abbas’ Fatah faction, with the Palestinian Authority’s influence limited to Palestinian-run parts of the occupied West Bank.

According to Israeli media reports, Smotrich only agreed to make the new payments under a deal in which the government recognized five wildcat settlements in the West Bank.

In June, he ordered the transfer of about $35 million of the funds collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority to help Israeli “victims of terrorism.” The decision was condemned by the U.S. government as “extraordinarily wrongheaded.”

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