Israel to halt PA construction, withhold funds in response to UNGA vote

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen at a security cabinet meeting on January 5, 2023
(photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)

The Prime Minister's Office published information regarding the sanctions against the Palestinian Authority on Friday afternoon.

Israel plans to sanction the Palestinian Authority for its push to seek an advisory opinion against it from the world court by withholding tax frees, freezing building plans in Area C, penalizing Palestinian officials and taking steps against non-government groups it holds is involved in diplomatic warfare against the Jewish state.

The Prime Minister's Office published information regarding the sanctions on Friday afternoon after the security cabinet approved the measures Thursday during a closed-door meeting.

"The current government will not sit idly by in the face of this war and will respond as necessary," the Prime Minister's Office said. It adopted the measures after the United Nations General Assembly voted on December 30 to seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice regarding the illegality of Israel's "occupation" of Palestinian territories.

Israel will transfer NIS 139 million from tax fees it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority to compensate the families of Palestinian terror victims.

It will withhold PA tax fees to offset the monthly stipends the PA provides to the families of terrorists involved in killing Israelis. This will be retroactive to the start of 2022.

Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the United Nations Security Council debate. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Benefits will be denied to Palestinian VIPs "who are leading the political and legal war against Israel, the PMO's office said.

The Security Cabinet said it would also continue to target non-governmental groups in the West Bank involved in terror activity or any hostile activity, "including political and legal action against Israel under the guise of humanitarian work."

Lastly, the security cabinet tackled the issue of illegal Palestinian building in Area C of the West Bank, which is under IDF military and civilian rule. The Right has argued that the Palestinian Authority seeks to ensure that Area C will be within the permanent borders of its future state by supporting illegal construction in that area. The Left has noted that there are few permits approved for Palestinian construction and thus the Palestinians have no choice but to build illegally.

The security cabinet on Thursday placed "a moratorium on Palestinian construction plans in Area C, following illegal take-over attempts by the PA, in opposition to international agreements," the Prime Minister's Office said.

Palestinian Authority condemns Israeli sanctions

The PA strongly condemned Israel's “punitive measures” and said they won’t stop the Palestinians from continuing their diplomatic efforts in the international arena.

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that it condemns in the strongest terms the measures against the Palestinian leadership and people.

“The Ministry affirms that 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 and to put an end to Israel's continued impunity from accountability and punishment,” the statement read.  

The ministry called on the US administration “to intervene seriously and truly to stop the implementation of the Netanyahu government’s programs that are hostile to our people and to peace.”

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said that the PA isn't interested in resolving the conflict with the Jewish state, nor do they care about easing the lives of the Palestinians.

"All they care about is harming Israel," he said, The security cabinet steps are intended to clarify that ''Israel will exact a price for any attempt to harm Israel in the international arena."

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir tweeted, "our right-wing government has set a course. We made a decision in the cabinet to take immediate steps against the PA and its officials. I hope and believe that more measures will be taken against those who support terrorism and try to pressure Israel."

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