Unilateral steps by the Palestinians to harm Israel and achieve statehood will invite unilateral steps by Israel in response, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday morning.
The Palestinians will achieve a state only through negotiations and not through “empty declarations or one-sided actions that only push a peace agreement further away,” Netanyahu said, speaking before the weekly cabinet meeting.
“Unilateral actions from the Palestinians will be answered with unilateral actions from our side,” the prime minister added, and decried the Palestinian decision last week to apply for state-level membership in a group of international treaties and conventions.
“Unfortunately… just when an agreement to continue the talks was getting close, the Palestinian leadership unilaterally applied to join 14 international bodies, violating the terms of the agreement that was reached,” the prime minister said.
The Palestinians “have a lot to lose” from such one-sided actions, while for its part, Israel was not afraid of the threat of UN intervention, Netanyahu added.
He said that Israel wants to continue the talks, but not at “any price.” Netanyahu noted that Israel has “made difficult moves” during the negotiations in an effort to create a framework to end the conflict while PA President Mahmoud Abbas has ruled out considering the central Israeli demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as “the Jewish state,” even though he knows this is necessary to end the conflict.
Possible unilateral moves against the Palestinians are being discussed by the Israeli leadership, but no decisions have been made on implementing any of them, according to a Sunday Yedioth Ahronoth report. Some possibilities include revoking permission for Palestinians to farm some 14,000 dunams of agricultural land and bringing to a halt 19 previously approved building projects in Palestinian-controlled areas.
More serious steps, political measures against the Palestinian leadership and economic sanctions, including the withholding of taxes collected by Israel, are being discussed but are unlikely to be implemented in the near future, the report said.