Israel has dismissed as “meaningless” the statement signed by more than 90 countries criticising sanctions it has imposed on the Palestinian Authority.
Israel imposed a series of sanctions on the PA in response to the United Nations General Assembly motion asking the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague to issue an advisory opinion about the ongoing occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Foreign minister Eli Cohen made it clear that Israel would maintain the sanctions despite the international criticism.
“Meaningless statements and signatures will not stop us from making the right decisions that will protect our citizens and secure our future,” he said.
“The interest of all countries should be to stop the incitement of the Palestinian Authority, which encourages terrorism and pays terrorists who kill Jews. The state of Israel is committed first and foremost to Israel’s security.”
Some of the countries that signed the statement on Tuesday had voted against the UN motion regarding the ICJ, but nevertheless signed the statement condemning the Israeli sanctions. They were imposed earlier this month following the inaugural meeting of the security cabinet of prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s new right-wing government.
Along with Ireland, 23 other European Union member states signed the statement, including countries considered to be close allies of Israel, such as Germany and the Czech Republic.
“We express our deep concern regarding the Israeli government’s decision to impose punitive measures against the Palestinian people, leadership and civil society following the request by the General Assembly of an advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice,” read the statement.
“Regardless of each country’s position on the resolution, we reject punitive measures in response to a request for an advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice, and more broadly in response to a General Assembly resolution and call for their immediate reversal.”
Among the retaliatory measures approved by Israel were the seizing of tax revenues – amounting to the equivalent of €36 million – that Israel collects on behalf of the PA, for transferral to Israeli victims of Palestinian attacks; freezing Palestinian construction in much of the West Bank; and cancelling some Palestinian VIP benefits.
Palestinian ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour welcomed the EU members’ statement, saying it showed that regardless of how countries voted at the UN, they were united in rejecting Israel’s punitive measures.
“Any country that is committed to the international law-based order cannot but oppose such punitive measures that target and affect the Palestinian people, leadership and civil society,” he said.
Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, accused the Palestinians of exploiting the UN’s “distorted mechanism to employ political terrorism” against Israel.
“Every country that signed it only added fuel to the Palestinians’ bonfire of incitement and terrorism and has pushed off any chance for reconciliation,” he said.