More than 90 countries signed a letter, published on Monday, Jan 16, demanding the “immediate” reversal of Israel’s punitive measures against the Palestinian Authority (P.A.).
The U.N. General Assembly late in December approved a resolution calling on the ICJ to “render urgently an advisory opinion” on Israel’s “prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation of Palestinian territory.” In response to the P.A.’s ongoing “political and legal war” against the Jewish state, the Israeli Security Cabinet decided, among other measures, to withhold taxes and tariffs collected on behalf of and transferred to the P.A., in an amount equal to that which Ramallah paid to terrorists and their families in 2022 under its “pay-for-slay” policy.
The letter was signed by representatives of the Arab and Islamic countries, including Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan, along with Western and other nations such as Germany, France, Italy, Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Cyprus, Japan, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico.
“Regardless of each country’s position on the resolution, we reject punitive measures in response to a request for an advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice, and more broadly in response to a General Assembly resolution, and call for their immediate reversal,” the letter states.
In parallel, a spokesperson for U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said he “notes with deep concern the recent Israeli measures against the Palestinian Authority,” adding that there should “be no retaliation… in relation to the International Court of Justice.”
Money For Victims
In line with the Security Cabinet decision, Jerusalem has transferred 138.8 million shekels ($39.5 million) of revenues collected for the P.A. to Israeli victims of terrorism and their families.
At a press conference, Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said, “We promised to fix this, and today we are correcting an injustice. This is an important day for morality, for justice and for the fight against terrorism. There is no greater justice than offsetting the funds of the Authority, which acts to support terrorism, and transferring them to the families of the victims of terrorism.”
For his part, P.A. Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said the punitive measures would “promptly lead to [the P.A.’s] collapse.”
In an interview with Haaretz, Shtayyeh described the Security Cabinet decision as “another nail in the Palestinian Authority’s coffin, unless there is immediate intervention by the international community, namely the [Biden] administration in Washington and Arab countries.” He added: “Previous Israeli governments worked to eliminate the two-state solution, and the current government is fighting the Palestinian Authority itself.”
U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price described the step aimed at curbing and punishing Palestinian terrorism as a “unilateral move” that “exacerbates tensions.”
The P.A. pays monthly stipends to Palestinians, and/or their families, for carrying out terrorist attacks against Israel. In 2021, the P.A. paid out an estimated 512 million shekels ($157 million) as part of this “pay for slay” policy.