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‘Israel will target Palestinian economy if Abbas annuls Oslo’

Senior Israeli officials have called for imposing economic repercussions against the Palestinians should Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas unilaterally call off the Oslo Peace Accords and other protocols, the Anadolu Agency reported yesterday.

Palestinian officials and economic experts confirmed to Anadolu that Israel is able to impose a number of economic sanctions that would immediately and heavily affect the Palestinians.

Early this week, Palestinian mass media reported Abbas’s plan to annul Oslo during his speech before the UN General Assembly in New York this month.

Oslo is the peace agreement signed between the PLO and Israel in the early 1990s, other protocols were signed in the following years. The Paris Protocol, which was signed 1995, organises the economic relations between the two sides.

Former PA Economic Minister Hassan Abu-Libdeh said that energy sectors would be the “main target for the Israeli sanctions against the PA,” noting that 95 per cent of PA’s energy imports come from Israel.

He said cutting the power to the Palestinian territories for one day would cause millions of dollars of losses to the Palestinian economy. He stressed that the Palestinians do not have any oil reserves. “If Israel stopped exporting oil to the PA, Palestinian life would freeze within one day,” he said.

Several other examples were mentioned by senior Palestinian officials and experts to the Anadolu regarding how any Israeli economic sanctions would immediately and heavily affect the Palestinians and put a heavy burden on them.

Former PA Planning Minister Samir Abdullah said that Israel is able to freeze PA tax money collected at the Israeli crossings. This is estimated to be more than $100 million a month; the funds are used to pay the salaries of more than 170,000 PA employees.

Abdallah said that a recent UN reported found more than 500 Israeli checkpoints across the occupied West Bank, allowing Israel to restrict Palestinians’ movement and consequently the Palestinian economy would collapse.

Additionally, Israel could control the Palestinians’ access to cash as the PA is dependent on the Israeli currency. This is a measure which Israel has used against Palestinians in Gaza, Abdallah said, causing economic stagnation.

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