Israel freezes $125 million, threatens further legal sanctions; US State Department to “review” US aid to PA
Israel has begun first steps in placing economic sanctions on the Palestinian Authority following its decision to request to join the International Criminal Court in the Hague with intent of pressing charges against Israel for war crimes during Operation Protective Edge over the summer of 2014.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and head negotiator for the PA Saeb Erekat signed the Rome Statute in Ramallah on Thursday, the paperwork filed and submitted officially on Friday.
The decision was made on Saturday by Prime Minister Netanyahu, Israel freezing close to $125 million in tax funds, which were collected by Israel on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. The money was scheduled to be issued to the Authority sometime this month.
Israel is also weighing the option of filing lawsuits as well as opening a case against the Palestinian Authority in non-governmental organizations, as the Authority accuse Israel of war crimes and “piracy” despite its continued unity government with Hamas- which openly calls for the destruction of Israel and uses human shields.
An Israeli official stated on Saturday that “Israel is weighing the possibilities for large-scale prosecution in the United States and elsewhere” following the United States announcement on Friday that following the PA’s continued unilateral moves against Israel over negotiations there could be “implications”.
The US State Department stated on Friday that it was ”deeply troubled by Palestinian action regarding the ICC… It should come as no surprise that there will be implications for this step, but we continue to review… US assistance to the Palestinian Authority has played a valuable role in promoting stability and prosperity not just for the Palestinians, but also for Israel as well.” The United States provides the Palestinians with over $400 million in economic aid annually.
Chief Palestinian observer to the UN Riyad Mansour stated on the US Department’s warnings that “It is really puzzling when you seek justice through a legal approach to be punished for doing so.”