Freezing the Palestinian Funds and Netanyahu's Distorted Vision

The decision to freeze the PA’s funds is part of the cynical policy of fulfilling Netanyahu’s vision of a new Middle East – one where Islamic State, not democracy, is the dominant force.

Tomer Appelbaum

Benjamin Netanyahu has reiterated any number of times, and again this week, “The Palestinian Authority is an entity that has formed an alliance with a terrorist organization, Hamas, which commits war crimes, and the State of Israel is a state ruled by law with a moral army that obeys international law.” If he is indeed correct, what does Israel care if the PA joins the International Criminal Court in The Hague?

There was something refreshing, finally, in the first statements by Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman about the Palestinian initiative. “The one who ought to be afraid of the International

Court in The Hague is the Palestinian Authority,” read a statement issued by the prime minister.

There was something refreshing, finally, in the first statements by Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman about the Palestinian initiative. “The one who ought to be afraid of the International Court in The Hague is the Palestinian Authority,” read a statement issued by the prime minister. The foreign minister likewise wrote in a Facebook post: “Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] can sign any convention he wishes. The only ones who commit war crimes in the conflict here are the Palestinians themselves, who are responsible for murderous acts of terror against babies, children, women and men, indiscriminately, for the past hundred years.”

Finally, à la Naftali Bennett, we have stopped apologizing. Why should we apologize? Let them apologize! Here is an opportunity for Israel to prove its innocence before the world, Haaretz and the New Israel Fund, and get rid of the false accusations that are hurled at it day in and day out. Besides, and maybe even more importantly, Israel takes a great deal of pride in the fact that it is the sole democracy in the Middle East, and expresses fear of the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. But the PA’s application to The Hague expresses its willingness to subject itself to international criteria – a willingness that Israel, which insists on its refusal to join the international court, does not have. Abbas’s signature on 22 international conventions, including the Rome Statute, not only makes it possible to prosecute Israel but also, first of all, obligates the PA to meet a series of criteria. That is why Israel should be glad about the move: It will no longer walk alone in its democracy.

In light of this, Israel’s objection to the PA’s move is suspicious. This objection shows that Netanyahu and Lieberman may not be all that confident in Israel’s morality. But far worse than that, it shows that Israel is not interested in a democratic Palestinian entity that is internationally accepted.

Faced with such an entity, Israel will have difficulty convincing the world that it is dangerous to sign an agreement with. Netanyahu’s statement that Israel expects the ICC to reject out of hand “the hypocritical application of the Palestinian Authority ... because the Palestinian Authority is not a state,” is itself a hypocritical one. The Palestinians are fighting to be recognized as a state, Israel is working with all its might to prevent that, using a massive diplomatic campaign that spans party borders, and when the Palestinians, in their despair, apply to the ICC, Israel expects the court to reject its application because it is not a state.

Time after time, Israel blocks the non-violent paths on which the Palestinians are advancing, and pushes them back toward violence. After all, who if not Netanyahu, in his rejectionism in the latest round of talks, pushed Abbas into Hamas’s arms, and then, of course, distanced himself from Abbas for having joined with Hamas? Even now, Netanyahu chooses to exclude the Palestinians from the circle of democratic states and shows them where they can look for friends.

In this sense, the decision to freeze the PA’s funds is a required measure, as part of the cynical policy of fulfilling Netanyahu’s distorted vision of a new Middle East – one where Islamic State, not democracy, is the dominant force. Netanyahu, who has devoted his political life to waging war against the possibility of Peres and Rabin’s “New Middle East,” knows that the quickest way to reap violence is to sow poverty.