US State Department spokesperson, Ned Price, criticised Israeli sanctions on the Palestinians, during a briefing yesterday, condemning it as “only serving to increase tensions”.
The criticism came after the Israeli security cabinet, on Friday, approved a series of sanctions against the Palestinian Authority (PA) in response to the PA’s successful initiative at the United Nations (UN) last week to have the UN International Court of Justice draft a legal opinion regarding Israel’s conduct in the Palestinian Territories.
The measures included stripping VIP benefits from PA officials that allowed them and their families permits to go through checkpoints that are closed to most Palestinians, or to move to the front of the line for faster passage. Other measures included seizing tax revenues Israel collects on behalf of the PA and freezing Palestinian construction in Area C of the Occupied West Bank
“This is part of the reason why we’ve opposed the Palestinian move when it comes to the ICJ, knowing that it would potentially only serve to increase tensions,” Price said, after being questioned on the topic during the daily press briefing.
“We believe the Palestinian effort at the UN was counter-productive, only taking the parties further away from the objective of a negotiated two-state solution.”
In an interview with Haaretz yesterday, PA Prime Minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, warned that the Israeli sanctions on the PA “will promptly lead to its collapse”.
In regards to the ICJ opinion on Occupation, he added, “The Palestinian people are struggling under a vicious Occupation. We have the right to complain and tell the world we are in pain. Israel wants to prevent even the most non-violent way of fighting the Occupation.”
Moreover, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Azzam Al-Ahmad, said Israel has one week to stop its punitive measures against the Palestinian Authority officials, or the PA will reconsider its relation with the Occupation State.