A week after Avigdor Lieberman declared Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas an "obstacle to peace," it turns out the foreign minister is not alone in the campaign to eliminate the Palestinian interlocutor. Shortly after Israel signed the deal to free soldier Gilad Shalit and revealed the PA leadership to be an empty vessel, the forum of eight senior ministers decided on Tuesday to embark on a campaign to punish the PA leadership.
The government took advantage of the PA's acceptance as a full member of UNESCO - the United Nations cultural organization - as well as its efforts to become a member of other UN agencies, to declare a retaliatory action that will further undermine Abbas' position. The forum decided to move ahead with the construction of 2,000 housing units in the settlements and in East Jerusalem, and to withhold more than NIS 300 million in taxes that Israel has collected for the PA, money intended to pay the salaries of PA employees ahead of the Muslim feast of Id al-Adha. The forum also decided to begin the process of revoking senior PA officials' VIP documentation.
The UN envoy to the region, Robert Serry, told Haaretz this week that the perpetuation of the status quo will lead to the dismantling of the PA and to "throwing the keys back to Israel." This gloomy prediction, which has the army very concerned, doesn't worry the government. On the contrary, the eight senior ministers' decision shows that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is following the path of Lieberman, who is calling for the severing of ties with the PA.
The political elimination of Abbas and his partners will lift international pressure on Netanyahu to freeze construction in the settlements, and will release him from the need to begin negotiations based on the 1967 borders. The takeover of the West Bank by terror groups - and the process of turning it into a clone of the Gaza Strip - will allow the government to occupy the territories again and do whatever it wants there. Such a development will amplify the influence of Iran and radical Muslim organizations, and will magnify the threat to Israel's security.
If Israel had a sober and responsible, peace-seeking leadership, it would welcome the PA's membership in UNESCO and even its upgraded status in the United Nations. Unfortunately, and distressingly, Israel is being led by a right-wing, myopic government.
קראו כתבה זו בעברית: ממשלת פירומנים
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