Diplomacy & defense

Move follows freeze on millions in tax revenues after ICC bid; Palestinians looking to resubmit statehood bid

Israel was weighing its options Sunday for further punishing the Palestinians after freezing millions in tax revenues as a first response to their bid to join the International Criminal Court.

A senior Israeli said Jerusalem would lobby pro-Israel members of the US Congress to enforce a law that would halt $400 million in annual American aid to the Palestinian Authority, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

Oded Balilty (Pool/AFP)

Last month, President Barack Obama signed a stop-gap funding bill that stipulates that US economic support not be given to the PA if "the Palestinian initiate an International Criminal Court judicially authorized investigation, or actively support such an investigation, that subjects Israeli nationals to an investigation for alleged crimes against Palestinians."

The Palestinian move to join the Hague-based court sets the scene for potential legal action against Israel for war crimes, in a bid to put pressure on it to pull out of the territories.

But the request to join the court, formally presented on Friday, infuriated Israel which quickly moved to freeze the transfer of half a billion shekels ($127 million/106 million euros) in tax revenues to the PA.

"The Palestinian Authority has chosen to take a path of confrontation with Israel, and we will not sit idly by," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told cabinet ministers on Sunday, vowing to put up a vigorous defense of Israel's soldiers.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat denounced the freezing of the transfer as "piracy", and Hamas said it amounted to "the theft of Palestinian money", urging the leadership to cut all security cooperation with Israel.

But Israeli officials warned it was only the first in a series of punitive measures, warning of "more severe steps" that could lead to a "gradual dissolution" of the PA.

Israel in 'attack mode'

But, in an unusual development, Israel was not planning to announce any new settlement construction, a senior foreign ministry official said on Sunday.

Ed Oudenaarden (ANP/AFP)

Speaking to Israeli diplomats serving in Europe, foreign ministry director general Nissim Ben Sheetrit said Israel's response would be "harsher and more comprehensive" than just freezing the taxes, but would not include settlement announcements, ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon told AFP.

"Israel is about to switch from defense to attack mode," Nahshon quoted him as saying, confirming comments first published by the Haaretz website.

A senior official quoted by Haaretz said the government had learned a lesson from that incident and would not be taking any steps making Israel the focus of criticism rather than the Palestinians.

The ICC can prosecute individuals accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed since July 1, 2002, when the court's founding treaty, the Rome Statute, came into force.

Gaza war first case to be examined at ICC

A Palestinian legal expert said the first case that would be referred to the ICC would be the "crimes" committed by Israel during summer 2014, including the Gaza war.

An official Fatah party website posted an image on Saturday depicting Netanyahu next to a noose with the phrase "coming soon."

Shawan Jabarin, director of the Ramallah-based rights group Al-Haq, said the Palestinians had decided to file suit over Israel's actions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip starting from June 13, 2013.


That was the date when Israel began a massive West Bank crackdown after the kidnapping and subsequent murder of three Israeli teenagers, triggering a series of events which led to the seven-week Gaza war.

A high-ranking legal official quoted by the top-selling Yedioth Ahronoth said Israel was ready to counter with its own lawsuits against senior Palestinian officials.

"These lawsuits, which are backed up with evidence, documents and affidavits, can be filed as early as tomorrow morning," he told the paper.

The basis of the complaints would be that Abbas's partnership in a consensus government with Hamas makes him complicit in the terrorist group's rocket attacks from Gaza on civilians in Israel.

Palestinians looking to resubmit UN statehood bid

Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Sunday that he was in talks with Jordan to resubmit a Palestinian statehood bid to the United Nations Security Council, which failed to garner enough votes last week.

The new member-states of the UNSC, which were instated over the New Year, are expected to be more sympathetic to the resolution, which demands an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank by 2017.

"We didn't fail, the UN Security Council failed us. We'll go again to the Security Council, why not? Perhaps after a week," Abbas said during a conference in the West Bank of Ramallah.

"We are studying it, and we will study this with our allies and especially Jordan ... to submit the resolution again, a third time or even a fourth time."

(with AFP)


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  • Rafin Fastur
    January 06th 2015 - 06:16am

    In the late fifties I was a good fan of Israel. As I grew older I begun to better understand human motivation and the workings of influence and deceit. Now much later in life I have lost all liking for the Zionist movement and Israelis in general. It's sad that it is this way because I still feel I am the same ordinary Joe that started at the beginning but with a little bit less arrogance and somewhat more compassion for everyone.

  • Michael Farmer
    January 05th 2015 - 05:38pm

    "Fatah is just a new name for the plo"

    Here you are, Joe. Oslo Accord below

    September 9, 1993
    Yitzhak Rabin
    Prime Minister of Israel

    Mr. Prime Minister,
    The signing of the Declaration of Principles marks a new era...I would like to confirm the following PLO commitments: The PLO recognizes the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security. The PLO accepts United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. The PLO commits itself...to a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two sides and declares that all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations...the PLO renounces the use of terrorism and other acts of violence and will assume responsibility over all PLO elements and personnel in order to assure their compliance, prevent violations and discipline violators...the PLO affirms that those articles of the Palestinian Covenant which deny Israel's right to exist, and the provisions of the Covenant which are inconsistent with the commitments of this letter are now inoperative and no longer valid. Consequently, the PLO undertakes to submit to the Palestinian National Council for formal approval the necessary changes in regard to the Palestinian Covenant.

    Yasser Arafat.
    Chairman: The Palestine Liberation Organization.

  • Joe Karon
    January 05th 2015 - 04:55pm

    Put me right,I was talking about you,Fatah is just a new name for the plo,maybe you are too young to remember,Same terrorists new name and some of the same people,abu mazen,carrying on arafats agenda.

  • Michael Farmer
    January 05th 2015 - 04:00pm

    Joe, you are confusing Fatah with Hamas.

  • Michael Farmer
    January 05th 2015 - 03:56pm

    "Typical,penny a dozen anti semitism"? ... thought we were talking about Israel, Joe. Nissim'll put you right on that point.

  • Joe Karon
    January 05th 2015 - 03:56pm

    Fatah recognizes the state of Israel,now that is a wild fantasy mike,If you really believe that I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you

  • Michael Farmer
    January 05th 2015 - 03:46pm

    "So mike, what do you say sums up the Palestinian Land Policy? Total eradication of the Zionist enemy, perhaps?"
    You know full well that Fatah recognises the state of Israel, but not the concept of a Jewish state. You have a mental block in this regard. No more wild fantasies, please.

    The website was wrong. I understand it has now been withdrawn. Some young fool no doubt.

    Re. the stolen money. This is mainly customs duty money collected by Israel ON BEHALF OF the Palestinian Authority for goods arriving at Israeli ports and bound for the Palestinian market. Therefore Palestinian money.

    "There is no legal or justifiable action on the part of one people who launches thousands of rockets on civilian areas of the other"
    Yet witness the excessive destruction of a large civilian area of Gaza by both tank and air.

    Had Gaza it's own air-force no doubt constant attacks on military targets within Israel would be perfectly legitimate by your reckoning. But then Gaza doesn't get the free killing power from the US that Israel has enjoyed for years.

    As I said, Abbas seeks a non-violent approach for justice and Israel stamps it's feet like a child. What a spoilt bunch.

  • Julie Turek
    January 05th 2015 - 03:14pm

    I can't wait to find out what is next. I hope Obama actually follows through on what was written into the funding requirements.

  • Nissim Gluck
    January 05th 2015 - 02:36pm

    So mike, what do you say sums up the Palestinian Land Policy? Total eradication of the Zionist enemy, perhaps?

    An official Fatah party website posted an image on Saturday depicting Netanyahu next to a noose with the phrase "coming soon." That just about says it all for the Palestinian attitude; Kill everyone who you hate and opposes you.

    Mike, the money Israel is withholding is Israel's money gathered through taxes collected from Israelis. It sure as hell is theirs. Should we be surprised how you join in biting the hand that feeds?

    Several countries have illegally occupied land or dispossess and oppress the local population over the course of history. Such is the collateral of war. There is no legal or justifiable action on the part of one people who launches thousands of rockets on civilian areas of the other, which is a direct frontal attack on Israel.

    Israel targeting precisely the launching grounds of those Palestinian rockets is a legal and justifiable defense by any grounds.

  • Michael Farmer
    January 05th 2015 - 01:46pm

    Meant "piece" not '"peace'! .... which could sum up the Israeli land policy. :-)