Israel Punishes Palestinians With New Restrictions in West Bank

In reaction to PA bid to join int'l conventions, IDF bars communications gear from entering Gaza, will curtail PA activities.

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Director of Palestinian General Intelligence in the West Bank Majid Faraj (L) whispers to Mahmoud Abbas during a meeting where he requested to join 15 UN agencies.
Director of Palestinian General Intelligence in the West Bank Majid Faraj (L) whispers to Mahmoud Abbas during a meeting where he requested to join 15 UN agencies.Credit: AFP

Israel began imposing a number of sanctions on the Palestinian Authority Thursday in response to a formal request by PA President Mahmoud Abbas to join 15 international conventions.

In a tense meeting between the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who represented Israel in the meeting, stated that the fourth prisoner release will not go forward until the PA rescinds its request to join the United Nations bodies.

A senior Israeli official said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon had on Wednesday instructed Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, coordinator of government activities in the territories, to prepare a list of possible punitive measures against the Palestinians in the West Bank. One of the proposals accepted was the suspension of an Israeli permit allowing the Palestinian wireless provider Wataniya, which operates in the West Bank, to bring equipment into the Gaza Strip for the company's planned mobile communications infrastructure there.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke by telephone Thursday with Netanyahu and Abbas and tried to convince them to show restraint in their actions. In public statements, Kerry urged the two leaders to "demonstrate leadership" to prevent the peace process from collapsing.

The Israeli-Palestinian-American meeting began at around 7:30 P.M. Wednesday and ended some nine hours later, at 4 A.M. Thursday. The Israeli representatives were Livni and Netanyahu's envoy for the peace process Isaac Molho. The Palestinians were presented by chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and intelligence chief Majid Faraj.

Indyk convened the meeting in an effort to save the peace process, but it quickly turned into a stage for mutual recriminations and threats. A senior Palestinian official described the meeting as a "tough political battle." Indyk did his best to ease the tensions, but in the end the meeting ended in failure.

Netanyahu and Ya'alon at the Knesset.Credit: Tess Scheflan

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