Home Front Defense Minister Avi Dichter on Sunday accused the Palestinians of shirking responsibility for terror from the Gaza Strip by applying for UN recognition, while Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon said the planned bid for UN nonmember status was a way of avoiding negotiations with Israel.
They were speaking amid new indications that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will indeed push ahead with a bid for nonmember status for “Palestine” at the UN General Assembly later this month, having earlier indicated that he might reconsider.
In seeking to upgrade the Palestinian Authority’s status to nonmember state, Dichter said on Sunday, Abbas was showing the world a “pseudo reality” — claiming he was in control of his situation enough to warrant asking for a UN status upgrade, but at the same time refusing to take responsibility regarding rocket fire from Gaza.
“The Palestinian move at the UN is a mistake, and it is being done while entirely ignoring the situation in Gaza,” Dichter told Army Radio. Israel cannot accept a situation wherein Gaza — which is nominally a part of the PA but de facto under the control of Hamas, a rival group to Abbas’s Fatah — is left out of the equation, the minister said.
The Palestinian leader hadn’t said “a single word about terror from Gaza,” Dichter said, referring to the recent flareup along the border.
Ya’alon said the move was “a flagrant violation of the Oslo agreement,” and was “geared toward avoiding entering talks” with Israel.
If the Palestinian Authority did make a unilateral drive toward statehood at the UN, Israel would “retain the right to implement counter-moves that are also unilateral,” the vice prime minister told Israel Radio.
On Saturday Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz warned that Israel would hold off transferring tax revenues to the PA if Abbas presses forward with a statehood bid.
Steinitz said that Israel would not collect taxes on the Palestinians’ behalf, deliver money to the PA, or assist Ramallah in economic matters.
Under the current economic agreements between Israel and the PA, Israel collects customs, border and some income taxes on behalf of the Palestinians and transfers them to Ramallah on a monthly basis.
The finance minister noted that the Palestinians backed down from a unilateral UN bid last year after Israel blocked the transfer of Palestinian tax funds to the PA.
Abbas is expected to submit a resolution to the UN General Assembly this month requesting nonmember state status for the Palestinians.
A senior Palestinian official had indicated Friday that Abbas may be willing to postpone the move if the US were to offer a “clear objective” for negotiations. According to the official, the objective would have to be a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Palestinian sources had further indicated Saturday that Abbas was “seriously considering” pushing back the UN bid, and that the stated reason for a possible postponement – from November to the end of January – was that newly reelected US President Barack Obama needed time to organize a political agenda for the second term of his administration.
On Sunday, however, Palestinian officials indicated that the UN bid was back on, and that Abbas would not delay it.
Ilan Ben Zion contributed to this report.