Netanyahu sanctions PA over ICJ suit

Israel declared it will implement retaliatory steps following a bid by Palestinians to involve the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the decades-old conflict between the sides.

By Erin Viner

The move comes in “response to the Palestinian Authority’s decision to wage political and legal war against the State of Israel,” said a statement issued by the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, following the first meeting of the Ministerial Committee on National Security Affairs (known as the Security Cabinet)

“The current government will not sit idly by in the face of this war and will respond as necessary,” stressed the statement [listed in full below]; while Netanyahu insisted during televised remarks to his cabinet on Sunday that “the Palestinian Authority (PA) has promoted an extremist anti-Israeli resolution at the United Nations” and that the decision entailed, among other measures, “sanctions against senior Palestinian figures.”

Following an appeal by the Palestinians, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) passed a resolution on 30 December 2022 calling for the ICJ to render an opinion on legal consequences of Israel’s so-called occupation of Palestinian territories. Israel captured most of the areas disputed by the Palestinians in the 1967 Six Day War, when it conquered the east side of a then-divided Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank from Jordan; in addition to the Golan Heights from Syria and Gaza from Egypt. The Palestinians, rejected a peace plan proposed by former-United States President Donald Trump, demand the captured territories for a future state.

The Hague-based ICJ, also known as the World Court, is the top UN court dealing with disputes between states. While its rulings are considered binding, the ICJ has no power to enforce them.

One of the measures approved by Jerusalem’s Security Cabinet will compensate victims of Palestinian terror attacks with use of taxes Israel collects on behalf of the PA; in a countermove to Ramallah’s “Pay to Slay” program that awards payments to Palestinian terrorists and their families dependent on the severity of the crimes against Israelis.

“There is no justice greater than deducting money from the Authority that worked to support terrorism and transferring it to the families of victims of terrorism,” Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich told reporters, announcing approval of ₪ 139 million shekels (about $40 million or  € 37,325) of frozen PA tax funds to compensate terror victims.

Other steps involve a moratorium on Palestinian construction in Area C of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), which is under full Israeli control.

“These decisions are condemned and rejected both in relation to money and other measures they are planning,” said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

In related developments as part of implementation of the government decision, Israeli border personnel confiscated the “VIP” travel card of PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki as he crossed from Jordan into the West Bank on Sunday.

The Israeli Ministry of Defense Ministry announced the day previous that the VIP cards of three other senior Palestinian officials had been revoked in response to them visiting a member of Israel’s Arab minority who had been imprisoned for killing an IDF soldier.

Full Statement from the Prime Minister’s Office

The Ministerial Committee on National Security Affairs (the Security Cabinet) convened for its first meeting yesterday (Thursday, 5 January 2023), to decide on the response to the Palestinian Authority’s decision to wage political and legal war against the State of Israel.

The current government will not sit idly by in the face of this war and will respond as necessary.

The Cabinet approved a number of steps to be taken vis-à-vis the PA in response to its appeal to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) last week.

The following is a list of these steps:

  1. Transferring approximately NIS 139 million from PA funds to victims of terrorism, implementing the Litvak verdict, which compensates the families of victims murdered in Palestinian terrorist attacks.
  2. Immediately offsetting the payments made by the PA to terrorists and their families in 2022, according to the report of the defense establishment.
  3. Placing a moratorium on Palestinian construction plans in Area C, following illegal take-over attempts by the PA, in opposition to international agreements.
  4. Denying benefits to VIPs who are leading the political and legal war against Israel.
  5. Action will be taken against organizations in Judea and Samaria that promote terrorist activity or any hostile activity, including political and legal action against Israel under the guise of humanitarian work.