JERUSALEM, April 9 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday ordered government offices to halt cooperation with the Palestinian Authority amid the latter request to join 15 international UN conventions, the Ynet news website reported.
The decision pertains to economic and civilian cooperation with the Palestinians, and does not pertain to the activity of Justice Minister and chief negotiator Tzipi Livni, as well as the security- related coordination.
This is not the first time such sanctions are enacted upon the Palestinian Authority. After its successful bid to join the UN as a nonmember observer state in November 2012, Israel withheld for a limited time period the transfer of tax money which was collected on its behalf.
Netanyahu said on Sunday that if the Palestinians are to take unilateral steps, then Israel would reciprocate in the same manner. "Unilateral steps from their side will be answered by unilateral step on our behalf," the prime minister said in the weekly cabinet meeting.
Netanyahu has tried then to blame the crisis in the talks on the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his refusal to acknowledge a Jewish state as well as the bid to join international treaties.
However on Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pointed the finger at Israel as the one responsible for the stalemate of the peace talks.
Israel has yet to respond officially to Kerry's statements but an official source in Jerusalem, which asked to remain anonymous as he was not at liberty to discuss the matter with the press, said Kerry's statements were ill-received in Jerusalem, where officials labored for the past two weeks to present Abbas as a non- partner and pin the blame on him for the crisis in the negotiations amid his unilateral moves.
Several outspoken members of parliament did speak up in response to Kerry's statements on late Tuesday.
Left-wing politicians Zehava Gal-On from Meretz said that the Israeli government continues to "give the U.S. the finger" instead of making brave decisions.
On the other hand, hawkish economy minister Naftali Bennet on his part said that "Israel will never apologize for building in Jerusalem."
The recent crisis in the talks, which resumed in July and are set to end by April 29, materialized after Israel announced it refuses to release a fourth batch of Palestinians out of the overall 104 it approved to release in July.
Despite last minute-ditch to overcome the obstacle and carry on with the negotiations, Israel announced last Tuesday it was to build 700 new houses in east Jerusalem's neighborhood of Gilo, which was annexed by Israel amid the 1967 Mideast War.
These moves were followed by Palestinian President Abbas announcing his requests to join 15 international treaties and conventions. Israel fears that the Palestinians would seek to join the International Criminal Court in Hague and file complaints against Israel's settlements activity and its occupation of the West Bank and east Jerusalem territories.
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met with U.S. Middle East Envoy Martin Indyk on Sunday and Monday without any results.
On Friday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who has made incessant efforts to reinstate and push forward the peace talks in the past year, said that Washington was evaluating whether it was worth continuing its mediation role in the peace process.
Israel insists Palestinians rescind requests to join UN conventions
JERUSALEM, April 8 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israel Radio on Tuesday that Israel will agree to resume discussing Palestinian prisoners' release if the Palestinian Authority rescinds its request to join 15 UN conventions.
In a phone call from New York where Lieberman is currently visiting, he told the radio that the only way to discuss the Palestinians prisoners' release is if the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas cancels his request to join 15 international treaties and blamed him for the current crisis in the talks. Full story
Israel wary of unilateral moves by Palestinians as hope fades
JERUSALEM, April 6 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that if the Palestinians were to take unilateral steps, Israel would reciprocate in the same manner.
"The Palestinians have a lot to lose from these moves. Unilateral steps from their side will be answered by unilateral steps on our behalf," Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting. Full story