CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ordered 175,000,000 shekels (nearly $43.5 million) to be transferred to the Gaza Strip.
The transfer came at the behest of Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
Olmert said the cash belonged to the PA and would be used to pay salaries of Fatah-affiliated workers in the Gaza Strip.
"This is in no way a transfer of money to Hamas," a spokesman for the Prime Minister's Office said.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Olmert to thank him for making the transfer.
According to local media sources, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak advised against the transfer on the basis that it would wind up in the hands of Hamas.
Other members of Knesset also objected.
"This is a bad decision," Shas chairman Eli Yishai said. "We have a virtual cease-fire, [IDF Corporal] Gilad [Shalit] is still being held captive, and we're supplying oxygen to Gaza," he said.
"In these circumstances, it would be better to cut off the oxygen to these terrorists," Yishai said.
MK Arieh Eldad also criticized the move.
"Olmert should present us with the agreements that require him to transfer money to Hamas," Eldad said.
"If Olmert wants to transfer money to Hamas so badly, he should give them what's left over in the envelopes," he said, referring to the investigation alleging that Olmert received tens of thousands of dollars in cash-stuffed envelopes from American businessman Morris Talansky.
Sources: The Jerusalem Post