US Treasury Secretary Fears "Humanitarian Crisis" If Israel Cuts Financial Channel To Palestinian Banks

Janet Yellen/ Photo EPA-EFE/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

The US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned today about the risk of a "humanitarian crisis" if Israel cuts off the key financial channel of the Palestinian banks.

"I am particularly concerned about Israel's threats to take action that would cut off Palestinian banks from their Israeli correspondent banks," she told reporters in Stresa in northern Italy, where the G7 finance ministers' meeting will open later.

According to her, these banking channels are key to processing transactions that enable nearly eight billion dollars a year in imports from Israel, including electricity, water, fuel and food, as well as facilitating nearly two billion dollars a year in exports on which Palestinian livelihoods depend.

Asked what the US and the G7 could do in response, Yellen said she had written to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu several months ago about the economic situation in the occupied West Bank.

- I believe it will create a humanitarian crisis in due course if Palestinian banks are cut off from Israeli correspondence. Of course, this is a position we will express, she said.

Yellen said the issue could be discussed at the G7, adding that she "expects other countries to express concern about the impact of such a decision on the West Bank economy."

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