1673344998 US warns Israeli sanctions on PA will increase tensions

US warns Israeli sanctions on PA will ‘increase tensions’

US State Department spokesman Ned Price on Monday condemned the Israeli government’s decision to impose sanctions on the Palestinian Authority over Ramallah’s successful efforts to bring Israel’s conduct in the Palestinian Territories to the International Court of Justice.

Price called Israel’s sanctions a “unilateral response” that will “intensify tensions,” while noting that they are no less problematic in Washington’s eyes than the PA’s bid for an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice at the United Nations last month.

“This is one of the reasons why we rejected the Palestinian move regarding the International Court of Justice, because we know that it might only serve to increase tensions,” Price said after speaking during the daily press briefing on the matter topic had been surveyed. “We believe [the Palestinian effort at the UN] was counterproductive and only pushed the parties further away from the goal of a negotiated two-state solution.”

He added that Biden administration officials would privately discuss the issue with both Israeli and Palestinian officials.

Sanctions approved by Israel’s Security Cabinet last Friday included giving part of tax revenue Israel collects on behalf of the PA to Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism; deduct from proceeds to offset payments made by the PA to Palestinian terrorists, attackers, security detainees and their families; Freeze of Palestinian construction activity in large parts of the West Bank; and the revocation of travel permits for senior Palestinian officials.

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Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh warned in a rare interview with Haaretz daily, published Monday, that the sanctions could spell the collapse of the PA.

US warns Israeli sanctions on PA will increase tensions

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, second from left, visits the office of human rights organization al-Haq in the West Bank city of Ramallah, August 18, 2022, which was raided by Israeli forces. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

He also claimed that Israel is actively profiting from the conflict by charging a monthly commission of NIS 30 million (US$8.6 million), which is deducted from payments for various services provided to the PA.

The security cabinet vote marked a departure from the policies of the previous government, which tried in various ways to strengthen the PA, fearing that its collapse would only give a boost to more extreme Palestinian forces like Hamas. At the same time, Prime Ministers Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid would not meet with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, let alone negotiate a two-state solution with him.

Netanyahu, who has long boasted of his efforts to isolate the PA, has cobbled together the most right-wing government in Israeli history, made up of many lawmakers who support the PA’s dissolution and view it as a terror-instigating entity. They do not share the view of the Defense Ministry, which has stressed the importance of Israel’s security cooperation with the PA and has urged successive governments to prevent its dissolution. Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said Sunday he had “no interest” in the continuation of the PA.

Given the latter’s support for improved Israeli-Palestinian relations, Israel’s uncompromising stance is likely to create tension in relations with the US. The Biden administration is also concerned about the new government’s plans to increase the Israeli presence in the West Bank by building more settlements, legalizing rogue Israeli outposts, and quashing Palestinian expansion in Zone C — the 60 percent of the West Bank where Israel is temporarily based Security is granted – expand civilian control under the Oslo Accords.

The decision on Israeli sanctions came about a week after the UN General Assembly voted to adopt a resolution calling on the International Court of Justice to provide a legal opinion determining whether Israel’s “occupation” of the Palestinians is permanent , and recommending steps that should be taken if this is the case.

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