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After UN vote on ICJ, Israel preps sanctions for Palestinian Authority

The Israeli cabinet's new sanctions on the Palestinian Authority and its leadership are putting Jerusalem on a collision course with Washington and the international community.
ATEF SAFADI/AFP via Getty Images

Israel’s security cabinet approved sanctions against the Palestinian Authority Friday in response to a UN resolution adopted Dec. 30. Possible sanctions were presented to the cabinet by senior security figures Thursday evening.

Israel has been threatening sanctions against the Palestinian Authority since the United Nations voted in favor of a resolution to seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the situation in the West Bank. On Wednesday night, after the UN convened to condemn Israel on National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir ascending the Temple Mount complex earlier in the week.

The sanctions adopted Friday include a freeze on construction plans to benefit Palestinians in West Bank's Area C (which is under Israeli control), withholding taxes Israel collects on behalf of the PA, revoking benefits for PA figures (especially VIP passes) who lead diplomatic and legal campaigns against Israel and unspecified moves against groups that support terror in the guise of humanitarian work.

The taxes to be withheld will involve two calculations: The first is Israel's recent and ongoing practice of deducting from the taxes due to the Palestinian Authority the stipends it pays to families of Palestinian assailants imprisoned in Israel. The second will be a deduction of 139 million shekels ($39 million) to compensate Israeli families of terror victims targeted by Palestinians.

A statement issued by the prime minister’s office read, "The current government will not sit idly by in the face of this war and will respond as necessary."

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen argued that the Palestinians are not interested in seeking a solution to the conflict nor in improving the lives of Palestinians and warned, "Attempts by the Palestinian Authority to hurt Israel in the international arena will cost it dearly!"

The cabinet's decision will increase tensions between the government of returned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Palestinians as well as with the United States.

A statement issued by the Palestinian Foreign Ministry condemned the sanctions, reading, “These and other measures will not discourage our people and our leadership from continuing their struggle and political, diplomatic and legal movement to provide international protection for our people.” 

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price reiterated Thursday Washington’s position against the Palestinian-led ICJ campaign. Price also noted that efforts must be focused on "pressing all parties to refrain from unilateral actions that threaten stability and undermine conditions for direct future negotiations between the parties." Referring to Ben-Gvir's visit to the Temple Mount, Price noted, "We oppose any unilateral actions that undercut the historic status quo — unilateral actions that, in our view, are unacceptable."

US envoy to the UN Robert Wood also expressed concerns about unilateral Israeli actions Wednesday, saying, “The US firmly supports the preservation of the historical status quo with respect to the holy sites in Jerusalem, especially on the Haram al-Sharif Temple Mount.”

Tensions with the United States were exasperated this week also by another incident in which some 30 graves were desecrated by two Israeli Jews at the historic Mount Zion Protestant Cemetery. “Religious site vandalism by anyone is unacceptable. Jerusalem must be a city for all of its people,” tweeted the US Office of Palestinian Affairs.

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