Israeli sanctions will lead to Palestinian Authority’s collapse, warns PM Shtayyeh

Israeli sanctions will lead to Palestinian Authority’s collapse, warns PM Shtayyeh

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has warned that a series of sanctions approved last week by the security cabinet against Ramallah will lead to the downfall of the PA.

In a rare interview with the Israeli daily Haaretz published on Monday, Shtayyeh defended Ramallah’s move at the United Nations to have the International Court of Justice draft a legal opinion on Israel’s conduct in the West Bank and Gaza – a step referred to by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. as “an extreme anti-Israel measure”.

Palestinians “have the right to complain to the world about the occupation,” he told Haaretz. He further accused Israel of “profiting from the occupation”.

The successful Palestinian initiative at the UN General Assembly was cited by Israel’s new hardline government as the reason for a series of sanctions against the PA, including the seizure of NIS 139 million ($39 million) in tax revenue that Israel collects on behalf of the PA and their channeling for Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism.

The prime minister of the Palestinian Authority called the move “another nail in the coffin [Palestinian] The Coffin of Authority”, if “the international community, with an emphasis on the administration in Washington and the Arab countries”, failed to intervene immediately.

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He said that the PA was not receiving regular funding from the United States and that the money received from the European Union was intended only for infrastructure.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L), Tzachi Braverman (2nd L) National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir (2nd R) and Environmental Protection Minister Idit Silman (R) at a cabinet meeting on January 3, 2023 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Shtayyeh also criticized the new government, widely considered Israel’s most right-wing ever, for isolating the PA.

“Previous Israeli governments tried to end the prospect of a two-state solution, while the current government is also fighting the PA itself,” he said.

Netanyahu has long boasted of his efforts to isolate the PA. While Shtayyeh has made similar repeated comments in the past about the impending downfall of the PA, this time the Israeli government is made up of many lawmakers who openly support shutting down the PA, seeing it as a terror-inciting body.

They do not share the view of the defense establishment, which stresses the importance of Israel’s security cooperation with the PA to prevent more extreme elements from gaining power and has pushed successive governments to prevent its dissolution.

“We are reading the situation very clearly,” Shtayyeh said. “Increased construction in settlements along with the separation of Jerusalem from the West Bank, the annexation of the territory of Area C and now the suppression of the PA – this is the plan being implemented by the Israeli government.” Area C is approximately 60% of the West Bank under full security and Israeli civilian control, where all settlements are located and Palestinian development is very limited.

In coalition deals between Netanyahu’s Likud party and the far-right Religious Zionist party, the prime minister agreed to advance the annexation of West Bank land. The commitment was vaguely worded, however, allowing Netanyahu to make no move on the matter if he so chooses.

Zionism’s religious leader, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, has long advocated the annexation of large parts of the West Bank, the massive expansion of settlement construction, the legalization of illegal Israeli outposts, and the demolition of Palestinian wildcat construction in Area C. .

At a press conference on Sunday, Smotrich said he had “no interest” in the continued existence of the PA.

While serving as prime minister in 2020, Netanyahu pushed to annex about 30 percent of the West Bank, but later scrapped the plan under pressure from the administration of then-US President Donald Trump, instead reaching a deal to normalized diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates. .

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich holds a press conference with the families of the victims at the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem, January 8, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Addressing the claim that the Palestinian campaign at the UN was one-sided, Shtayyeh said: “The whole occupation is one-sided and the construction in [Jewish] settlements unilaterally, all are unilateral. But if we turn to the UN and the international community, then it is wrong and one-sided?”

The Palestinian leader also claimed that Israel was actively profiting from the conflict by charging a monthly commission of NIS 30 million ($8.6 million) deducted from payments for various services provided to the PA.

“Israel sells us everything, including sewage treatment, electricity and drinking water, and basically benefits from the whole mechanism,” Shtayyeh said.

He said the PA would turn to Arab League member states, the European Union and the Biden administration in a plea for financial aid and to prevent the Israeli effort “to crush the two-state solution.”

“The Palestinians are not going anywhere,” he declared.

The Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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