Officers in the Civil Administration refused to recommend punitive measures that could be used against the new Palestinian unity government, Haaretz has learned.
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The recommendations were to be submitted ahead of a meeting scheduled for Sunday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the purpose of deciding on Israeli responses on top of Thursday’s announcement of the “unfreezing” of construction projects in West Bank settlements.
A number of brainstorming session were held Thursday by military and Civil Administration officials in an effort to come up with proposals that could be submitted to Netanyahu.
At a meeting on Thursday of all Civil Administration staff officers – civilian employees of the Israel Defense Forces, each of whom is in charge of a different field in the West Bank, such as water, electricity, transportation, health, welfare, archaeology, industry or environmental protection – attendees were asked to suggest ways to inflict harm on the Palestinians.
But at the start of the meeting, one of the staff officers stood up and said that if the Civil Administration imposes sanctions on Palestinian civilians, this would destroy the very raison d’etre of the staff officers, which was to serve the Palestinian population. The staff officer’s position received widespread support, effectively ending the discussion.
One proposal, raised by one of the IDF officers in attendance and included in the meeting summary, was to restrict the movement of senior Palestinian officials in Area C of the West Bank, which according to the Oslo Accords is under exclusive Israeli control. Such restrictions will be difficult to defend from a legal standpoint.
Despite the remarks made during the meeting, it should be noted that the Civil Administration is delaying work on master plans, approved during the government of Ehud Barak and suspended after the Palestinians applied for full membership in the United Nations, aimed at regularizing 19 Palestinian villages in Area C. It is doubtful that work on these plans will resume anytime soon.