Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman instructed the Israel Defense Forces to cut all civilian ties with Palestinian officials Saturday night, in a sign of more diplomatic fallout following the passage of an anti-settlement resolution in the United Nations Security Council on Friday.
According to Army Radio, Liberman ordered the IDF and the Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories, which is responsible for implementing Israel government policies in the West Bank, to cease all contact with political representatives of the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian civilians, as well as end all cooperation on political and civilian matters.
However, the defense minister instructed the IDF to continue to work with the Palestinian security services to coordinate on security matters, which is seen as vital to ensuring calm in the West Bank.
A spokesperson for COGAT had no comment and referred queries to the Defense Ministry. There was no immediate comment from the Defense Ministry.
UNSC Resolution 2334, which was initially proposed by Egypt on Thursday — before it withdrew the motion following pressure from Israeli officials and US President-elect Donald Trump — was drafted in part by the Palestinians, who finalized the measure with the help of Egyptian and Arab diplomats last week.
The UN measure declares that Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem has “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-state solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.”
The resolution was passed Friday evening by a 14-0 majority, with only the United States abstaining, and Israeli officials have lashed out at the states that proposed and backed the measure as well as the United States, which it accused of secretly initiating the resolution.
Palestinian leaders have praised the measure, with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas hailing it as setting “the legal basics for a solution,” as it “reiterated that Israeli settlement is illegal.”
“The world said its word that settlement in the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem, is illegal,” Abbas said Saturday night, while calling on Israel “to sit together at the negotiation table to discuss all the outstanding issues between us and resolve them with good intentions… we are neighbors on this holy land and we want peace.”
Saeb Erekat, a former peace negotiator and number two in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said the vote was a “clear and unanimous message to [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu that ‘your policies will not achieve peace and security for Israel or the region.’” He added, “The only way to peace is through the creation of an independent Palestinian state, and this is what the international community agreed upon today at the Security Council.”
While Liberman’s order on Saturday was the first step taken by Israel against the Palestinians following the approval of the resolution, Israeli leaders have taken a number of retaliatory measures against some of the states that supported its passage.
Following the vote, Netanyahu, who is also foreign minister, ordered a series of punitive measures against New Zealand and Senegal, two of the four countries that co-sponsored the resolution. (Israel does not have diplomatic relations with the other two sponsoring countries, Venezuela and Malaysia.)
Netanyahu recalled Israel’s ambassadors in New Zealand and Senegal to Jerusalem for consultations. He canceled the upcoming visit to Israel of the Senegalese foreign minister and instructed the Foreign Ministry to cancel all aid programs to Senegal. He also ordered the cancellation of visits in Israel of the nonresident ambassadors of Senegal and New Zealand.
On Saturday, Netanyahu also nixed the planned visit this week of Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman to Israel, who was scheduled to meet with Netanyahu and other top Israeli officials, in retaliation for Ukraine voting in favor of the resolution.
In addition, he vowed to cut funding for various UN agencies, specifying in a speech on Saturday night that he had already ordered an end to NIS 30 million in funding for five unnamed UN bodies.
Raphael Ahren and agencies contributed to this report