As the UN vote on Palestinian statehood within the June 4, 1967 borders approaches, Israel's government is showing increasing symptoms of hysteria.
First, the Foreign Ministry has been mobilized for a global diplomatic intimidation campaign, which has recently become a reproach campaign against countries that have pledged to support the Palestinian-Arab initiative. After it turned out that more than 120 countries intend to vote in favor of the initiative, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman threatened that Israel would revoke the Oslo Accords. This week Lieberman proposed severing all ties with the Palestinian Authority to preempt the wave of violence he says will erupt the day after the UN declaration.
Barak Ravid reported in yesterday's Haaretz that other ministers in the debate on Wednesday suggested imposing sanctions against the PA as a way to pressure its leaders to stop the move at the United Nations. For example, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz proposed suspending the transfer of tax money that Israel collects for the Palestinians. The proposal is reminiscent of the American threat to punish the Palestinians for their desire for independence by stopping financial contributions to the PA.
It's hard to think of a more dangerous and foolish move than destroying the PA and cutting off the livelihood of tens of thousands of security personnel and officials who depend on it for their wages. As Defense Minister Ehud Barak said at the debate, this move would lead to anarchy in the West Bank, making Israel responsible for the welfare of 2.5 million people. The Fatah-led authority is the last barrier preventing the West Bank from turning into a Hamas branch.
The great danger threatening Israelis' safety is the Palestinian leadership's decision to lock the authority's gates the day after the UN vote and throw the keys onto the street. The way to stop escalation after the September vote is to open peace negotiations based on the '67 borders, including land swaps and a temporary freeze on construction in the settlements. If Israel's hysterical reactions don't lead to a systemic collapse in the occupied territories, the way will be clear to conduct these talks with the new state.
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