The Prime Minister and Foreign Minister are promoting sanctions to punish Palestinians should they seek UN recognition; yet the defense establishment is opposed: “It’s better to keep the close cooperation with the Authority.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will convene the nine-minister Defense Forum today [Nov. 6] to discuss the sanctions that will be imposed on the Palestinians should they decide to go through with their plan to unilaterally upgrade their UN status to a “non-member state”. However, it seems that the Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office are pitted against the defense establishment, the latter expressing opposition to imposing sanctions on the Palestinian Authority.
In recent weeks, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Security Council have carried out intensive work to review the economic agreements that were previously signed between Israel and the Palestinians. Their recommendations could serve as a punitive measure should the Palestinians go through with their intentions to seek a UN upgrade at the end of November. In closed forums, Foreign Minister Liberman said in the past that he would act to topple the Palestinian Authority if it were to seek such unilateral recognition. Some of the sanctions at hand include freezing the transfer of tax money, reducing the number of work permits and curtailing the commercial activity at the border crossings between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Yet not all professional officials in Israel agree with the policy of sanctions that Netanyahu and Lieberman espouse. Defense establishment officials are reportedly opposed to the idea, arguing that it is better to maintain the close cooperation with the PA than to impose sanctions. The defense establishment contends that recognizing the Palestinian Authority as a “non-member state” is more of a morale-related achievement for the Palestinians than a concrete achievement on the ground.
Meanwhile, the Coordinator of the Government Operations in the Territories, Maj.-Gen. Eitan Dangot, will head an Israeli delegation to Brussels this week that will meet with ambassadors of the European countries to the European Union. He is expected to explain to the ambassadors why they should oppose the unilateral Palestinian move in the UN. The Israeli ambassadors to Europe are also scheduled to convene for an emergency meeting with the goal of staving off the Palestinian initiative. Twenty seven ambassadors will take part in a meeting this weekend in Vienna, whose main objective is to persuade the Europeans to wield pressure on the Palestinians to forego their plan to seek UN recognition. Jerusalem hopes that if this move is not thwarted then at least it will be able to persuade the leading countries in Europe to vote against it or to abstain.