Defense establishment doesn’t want to punish PA

"Stopping tax-money transfers to Ramallah could potentially lead to PA's collapse, increase in Palestinian violence," defense officials say.

By
September 18, 2011 04:16
2 minute read.
IDF tear gas fire at stone throwers in Nebi Salah

IDF tear gas fire at Palestinians throw stones in Nebi Salah. (photo credit: IDF Spokesman)

The defense establishment is opposed to Israeli punitive action against the Palestinian Authority following its planned unilateral declaration of statehood at the United Nations next week – and particularly with a possible halt to the government transferring customs and tax money it collects on behalf of the PA to Ramallah.

Stopping money and tax transfers to the PA has been used as a threat in recent weeks by government officials as one of Israel’s potential responses following the PA declaration. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz are said to support the move.

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Top defense officials told The Jerusalem Post that stopping money transfers to Ramallah could potentially lead to the PA’s collapse, anarchy in the territories, and ultimately an increase in violence by Palestinians dependant on the PA for their livelihood, such as members of the Palestinian security services.

“It is important that we retain financial stability, even after their unilateral moves,” said one senior official from the Defense Ministry. “Stopping money transfers could lead to a financial crisis which could lead to a violent escalation.”

The IDF is working closely with PA security services amid fears that large-scale demonstrations will breakout over the coming weeks, following the PA’s declaration at the UN.

In recent weeks, OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrachi and OC Judea and Samaria Division Brig.-Gen. Nitzan Alon, met with their Palestinian counterparts to coordinate the way the IDF will respond to demonstrations.

The defense officials also warned of growing settler violence in the West Bank and how attacks against Palestinians could lead the PA to stop working to contain demonstrations as it has said it would.

On Friday, settlers and Palestinians clashed near the Palestinian village of Kusra, south of Nablus. One Palestinian was shot and a settler was stabbed. Both were evacuated to hospital.

The clashes erupted outside the village after a group of about a dozen settlers entered a Palestinian orchard and closed off the irrigation system.

Palestinian villagers threw stones in response.

Earlier in the month, in what the IDF is calling a settler “price tag” attack, vandals set fire to a mosque in the same village and scrawled graffiti in Hebrew. Palestinians then set fire to nearby Israeli orchards.

Fearing additional violence in the area, the IDF and Israel Police beefed up their presence near Kusra to prevent possible retaliation by either side.

The IDF went on high alert throughout the West Bank last, week ahead of the so-called September demonstrations that are expected to intensify next weekend after PA President Mahmoud Abbas submits a statehood resolution to the UN.

The IDF has completed the deployment of several additional infantry battalions in the West Bank who have undergone special anti-riot training ahead of the expected demonstrations.

Additionally, units were deployed in the South near the border with the Gaza Strip and in the North to prevent border infiltrations from Syria and Lebanon.


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