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'Israel considering freezing PA tax transfers over UN move'

March 25, 2012 06:50

Jerusalem may freeze joint economic ventures with PA after UN decision to probe settlement effects of West Bank Palestinians; diplomatic source tells Israel Radio PA cannot act against Israel in the UN.

The Palestinian flag is raised at UNESCO in Paris

The Palestinian flag is raised at UNESCO in Paris 311 (R). (photo credit:REUTERS/Benoit Tessier)

Israel is considering punitive measures against the Palestinian Authority over the UN Human Right’s Council decision to establish a fact-finding mission to probe the effects of settlements on Palestinian human rights, Israel Radio reported Sunday.

Part of these measures may include delaying the transfer of tax revenues to the PA, or freezing joint economic ventures between Jerusalem and the PA, a diplomatic source told Israel Radio.

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Israel wants to send the PA a message that it cannot enjoy Israel's cooperation while at the same time "acting against it in international bodies," the source said, referring the UN Human Rights Council approval last week of a plan to send observers to document the effect Jewish settlements have on Palestinian human rights.

Eight senior cabinet ministers will convene Sunday to discuss possible sanctions on the PA.

Israel froze tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority last year, following UNESCO's decision to admit the PA as a member state in October. While Jerusalem released the funds in November, the government warned it would freeze them again were the PA to continue to pursue statehood unilaterally at the UN.

On Friday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman accused PA President Mahmoud Abbas of engaging in “diplomatic terror” against Israel. Liberman’s comments came during a meeting with Singapore President Tony Tan in the southeast Asian country.

Calling the council a “theater of the absurd of hypocrisy and dual standards,” Liberman said he would convene a meeting of senior officials in the Foreign Ministry to determine whether Israel should cut off all ties with the council, and to consider lobbying other countries – first and foremost the US – to get them to leave the body.

That, however, is not going to be an easy chore, especially judging from a statement the US State Department issued on Friday about the council’s activity last week.

While the statement said the US “reaffirmed its strong opposition to a series of anti- Israel measures that continue unnecessarily to politicize the council’s human rights agenda,” it added that the council’s 19th Regular Session helped “spur action on a series of important human rights situations around the world, in part due to vigorous US engagement.

“Our persistence in combating the council’s enduring anti-Israel bias, coupled with our successful efforts to confront human rights violations around the world, underscores the importance of United States leadership and engagement at the Human Rights Council and across the UN system,” the American statement said.

Herb Keinon contributed to this report
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