Israel’s new Security Cabinet adopted several sanctions on the Palestinian leadership in some of its first actions after taking office, the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Friday.
According to a statement from Netanyahu’s office, the action is in response to Palestinian pressure on the U.N.’s top court to express an opinion on the Israeli occupation.
In light of the escalating violence in the occupied territories, the development confirms Israel’s new ultranationalist government’s pledge to take a tough stance toward the Palestinians.
It occurred a week after the UN General Assembly approved a resolution asking the International Court of Justice to get involved and provide a ruling about the legitimacy of Israeli policies in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem.
Israel’s Security Cabinet described the appeal made to the UN by the Palestinian Authority. referred to as a “determination to pursue a political and legal war against the State of Israel.”
The statement read, “The current government will not remain silent in the face of this war and will take the required action.”
In response, Israel decided to withhold $39 million from the Palestinian Authority and instead use the money to fund a compensation program for the families of Israeli victims.
The Security Cabinet, which is made up entirely of Netanyahu’s far-right and religiously conservative allies, made this decision.
It was announced that Israel would also take additional deductions from the money it typically sends to the cash-strapped PA.
These deductions would equal the money the PA paid last year to the families of Palestinian prisoners and those who died in the conflict, including militants involved in attacks against Israelis.
Israel claims that the so-called Martyrs’ Fund encourages violence, whereas the Palestinian leadership views the payments as essential social aid.
Israel’s withheld money poses a risk of making the PA’s financial problems worse.
Top PA officials receive Israeli permits that allow them to travel easily in and out of the occupied West Bank, in contrast to ordinary Palestinians, which was another direct target of the Security Cabinet’s attack on Palestinian officials, which it claimed would be denied benefits to “VIPs who are leading the political and legal war against Israel.”
According to the U.N., Area C contains settlements and rural regions where 300,000 Palestinians reside.
Taking specific “measures” against West Bank organizations that “promote terrorist activities or any unfriendly activity,” including organizations that “engage in political and legal action against Israel under the pretext of humanitarian assistance,” is the final step outlined by the cabinet on Friday.
It’s unclear exactly which groups could be a target. Israel labeled six influential Palestinian rights organizations as terrorist groups over a year ago and raided and closed their headquarters last summer.
The Palestinian organizations denied the accusations, and the action received strong international criticism.