Following last week’s announcement of a Fatah and Hamas unity government, Israel has begun to implement economic sanctions on the Palestinian Authority. Reports released Monday and Tuesday claim that Israel has begun using tax money collected by the Palestinian Authority to pay of Palestinian debts, as agreed to by Netanyahu’s cabinet following the unity government announcement.
Palestinian debts include over $285 million to the Israeli Electric Company.
Reports Tuesday confirm that Israel has also frozen plans to build Palestinian homes in Zone C in the West Bank, a region entirely under Israeli control. Additional reports claim Israel will revoke VIP access for Palestinian officials into Israel as well.
Israel officially ended peace talks with the Palestinian Authority, which refused to cooperate in efforts by Israel and the United States to extend the talks. Prime Minister Netanyahu has been clear since the fall out of talks and unity government that Israel will not negotiate with a Palestinian unity government with Hamas.
He stated, “I am not going to accept a stalemate. I won’t accept another Palestinian state that is an Iranian offshoot of Iran, firing missiles in our cities. But I do seek a two states for two peoples solution. If I can’t have it right away with this Palestinian government, then we will seek other ways.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas stated on Tuesday that no negotiations or peace would be possible with Israel unless borders are defined. He stated,” Since the creation of Israel, nobody knows what the borders are. We are determined to know our borders and theirs; without that there will be no peace.” Speaking in a televised address, Abbas stated that a settlement freeze, maps and borders and the final release of Palestinian prisoners “would extend negotiations.”
Palestinian head negotiator Saeb Erekat accused Israel as the responsible party for failed talks, claiming that Israel’s politicians are a “extreme sector of Israeli society- mainly settlers.” He accused Netanyahu of consolidating “Israel’s apartheid regime.”
On what would have been the final day of peace talks Tuesday, Erekat stated that, “Exactly nine months ago President Abu Mazen [Abbas] announced a suspension of the program to join international organizations at the UN in return for the release of 104 Palestinian prisoners jailed in Israel, whose sentences predate the Oslo Accords. Yet, 30 prisoners are stilled incarcerated in Israeli jails.”
He went on to accuse Israel of “killing Palestinians” and demolishing Palestinian homes and “sabotaging Palestinian and international efforts to achieve the two-state solution.”
Amir Tsarfati is the founder and president of Behold Israel, a news site to correct the scarcity in trustworthy reportage on issues and events impacting Israel, and to resolve the uncertainty about who or what to believe.
Photo credit: Prime Minister of Israel (Creative Commons)