Instead of waiting idly for the PA to throw the next diplomatic punch, Israel is working to preempt any Palestinian moves.
Israel is reportedly contemplating asking the U.S. Congress to stop its funding of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in response to the PA’s bid to join the International Criminal Court (ICC), from which it intends to continue its diplomatic onslaught against Israel.
Israel’s Haaretz quotes an Israeli official who stated that Jerusalem will turn to pro-Israel members of Congress asking them to ensure that a law banning funding for the PA if it joins the ICC is enforced. The PA stands to lose some $400 million annually in U.S. aid.
Israel’s request is in line with U.S. law. Congress passed a bill, signed by President Barack Obama last month, which stipulates that State Department economic support funding may not be given to the PA if “the Palestinians 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 law further specifies that if the Palestinians obtain member status at the UN or any specialized agency, the PLO office in Washington will be closed for at least three months. The office can be re-opened any time after those three months, provided the Palestinians engage in direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel, the Times of Israel reports.
U.S. to PA: Your Actions are Entirely Counter-Productive
The U.S. has harshly condemned this latest Palestinian course of action, stating that the U.S. was deeply troubled by the Palestinian action regarding the ICC. “It is an escalatory step that will not achieve any of the outcomes most Palestinians have long hoped to see for their people,” State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said last Wednesday. “Today’s action is entirely counter-productive and does nothing to further the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a sovereign and independent state. It badly damages the atmosphere with the very people with whom they ultimately need to make peace.”
This report comes a day after Israel announced it is withholding NIS 500 million (about $127 M) in tax funds it had collected on behalf of the PA in December.
Israel further warned that if the PA proceeds with its diplomatic warfare against Israel it will take further steps against the PA, including possibly dismantling the Authority as one minister suggested.
The PA, on its part, has made the same counter threat. PA negotiator Saeb Erekat threatened again on Sunday that the PA might dissolve itself, thus dumping the responsibility for the Palestinian population on Israel.
Netanyahu: PA Leaders Should Stand Trial for War Crimes
The PA has failed in their bid to gain statehood at the UN Security Council (UNSC), but PA head Mahmoud Abbas stated that the PA will try to resubmit their resolution to the UNSC. “We will go back to the Security Council until it recognizes our rights,” Abbas said on Sunday, Reuters reported. “We are determined to join international conventions and treaties despite the pressure. We didn’t fail, the UN Security Council failed us. We’ll go again to the Security Council, why not? Perhaps after a week.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s resolve not to bend to Palestinian pressure. “The Palestinian Authority has chosen confrontation with Israel and we will not sit idly by. We will not allow IDF soldiers and commanders to be hauled before the International Criminal Court in the Hague.”
Netanyahu charged that it is the Palestinian leaders who should stand trial at the ICC for war crimes. “It is the Palestinian Authority leaders – who have allied with the war criminals of Hamas – who must be called to account. The soldiers of the IDF will continue to defend the State of Israel with strength and determination and just as they defend us, we will defend them with the same strength and determination.”
By: Aryeh Savir
Staff Writer, United with Israel
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