US must stop Israeli sanctions that undermine PA, Shtayyeh tells US envoy Amr

Edelstein told US Ambassador Nides that settlement building must continue and defended Ben-Gvir's visit to the Temple Mount.

 PA PRIME Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh attends a cabinet meeting. (photo credit: NASSER ISHTAYEH/FLASH90)
PA PRIME Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh attends a cabinet meeting.
(photo credit: NASSER ISHTAYEH/FLASH90)

The Biden administration must act swiftly to stop Israeli sanctions and other unilateral actions that threaten the Palestinian Authority and a two-state solution, PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh stressed during a meeting in Ramallah on Thursday with US special envoy Hady Amr.

“The US administration is required to move urgently to put an end to the unilateral Israeli measures and threats that undermine the [Palestinian] Authority and systematically end the possibility of establishing a Palestinian state,” Shtayyeh told the US envoy.

Shtayyeh briefed Amr on “the violations and unilateral measures taken by the new extremist Israeli government against the Palestinian people,” according to the PA’s official news agency Wafa.  

Optimism about visits by Blinken, Sullivan

The Palestinian premier spoke in advance of the visit later this month by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan to the region. Those US officials, he said, should “carry a message of hope for the Palestinian people and a clear statement to the Israeli government of the need to stop violations and unilateral measures.”

The two men spoke less than a week after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new government decided to sanction the PA both for its policy of providing monthly stipends to terrorists and their families and for its appeal against Israel to the International Court of Justice.  The sanctions include the withholding of tax fees that Israel collects on behalf of the PA.

 Israeli Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman MK Yuli Edelstein (R) is seen meeting with Israeli Ambassador to the US Tom Nides, on January 11, 2023. (credit: NOAM MOSCOWITZ/KNESSET SPOKESMAN'S OFFICE) Israeli Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman MK Yuli Edelstein (R) is seen meeting with Israeli Ambassador to the US Tom Nides, on January 11, 2023. (credit: NOAM MOSCOWITZ/KNESSET SPOKESMAN'S OFFICE)

Shtayyeh repeated his demand for “real” American pressure on the Israeli government to stop all violations and release the Palestinian funds that it deducts from tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinians in response to payments made to the families of Palestinian prisoners and “martyrs.”

“The Palestinian people and their leadership will not accept the fait accompli, and we will move forward in the popular, diplomatic and legal struggle in the face of the Israeli measures,” Shtayyeh pledged.

Amr also met in Ramallah with PLO Secretary-General Hussein al-Sheikh, who said he stressed the need for a political horizon that preserves the two-state solution in accordance with international legitimacy. Sheikh too warned of the Israeli government’s “unilateral measures and daily attacks which destroy the efforts towards a two-state solution and destroy security and stability.”

Edelstein and Nides meet

In Jerusalem on Wednesday, Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Yuli Edelstein (Likud) asked US Ambassador Tom Nides that more must be done to halt Palestinian incitement and that West Bank settlement activity must continue.

"I presented to Ambassador Nides my clear position about the necessity in the territory of the settlements in Judea and Samaria," Edelstein wrote in a post he placed on his Facebook page after the visit.

He also spoke about the Temple Mount and defended National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir's visit to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound on that site last week.

It was a move that was globally condemned as a violation of the status quo, in which visitors of all faiths can visit but only Muslims can pray there.

Israel has insisted that Ben-Gvir's visit was in keeping with those restrictions and Edelstein explained this to Nides.

"I clarified that the status quo is upheld and precisely because of that there is a need to deal with the Palestinian conduct that incites with all things relating to the Temple Mount," he said.

Edelstein, who is a former Knesset speaker, lives in the Gush Etzion region of the West Bank and is a strong supporter of Israel's religious and historic right to that region, which he refers to as Judea and Samaria.

As the head of the FADC, he will also be one of the new government's faces to the International community. 

“I lived for 28 years in Gush Etzion," Edelstein told Nides. "I know that life doesn't stop; the families there are developing and it's impossible to put their lives on hold. Construction should continue." 

Edelstein wrote that he and Nides discussed the importance of strengthening the relationship between the two countries based on shared values and interests.

But the Biden administration is at odds with Israel when it comes to settlement activity, which it opposes.

On Tuesday Nides told Israel's KAN News that "we want to keep a vision of a two-state solution alive and .. massive settlement growth will not accomplish that goal.. in which case we will oppose it and we will be very clear about our opposition."