newsIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

Israel Cabinet to vote on strengthening Judea and Samaria, punishing PA

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara have requested more time to study the proposed measures, which include the approval of 10,000 new housing units in Judea and Samaria.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich during a Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, June 18, 2023. Photo by Amit Shabi/POOL.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich during a Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, June 18, 2023. Photo by Amit Shabi/POOL.

Israel’s Security Cabinet has agreed on a series of measures meant to strengthen the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria and punish the Palestinian Authority for its diplomatic assault on Jerusalem, the Prime Minister’s Office announced on Sunday night.

According to the PMO, the government discussed several proposals that would “strengthen settlement in Judea and Samaria,” as brought forward by Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich late last month.

Jerusalem said Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara had requested additional time to comment on the suggested measures, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered that all proposals be put to a vote at the next Security Cabinet meeting.

In a May 22 letter to Netanyahu, Smotrich demanded that the premier approve a series of steps to bolster Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, including the immediate approval of 10,000 new housing units, establishing a new town for each country recognizing a Palestinian state and advancing a proposal to strengthen Israel’s hold on the area.

Ynet reported on Monday that the finance minister’s plan also includes construction permits for Palestinian residents, though not in areas that would harm Jerusalem’s “strategic control” of Judea and Samaria.

Smotrich’s missive was made public only hours after Norway, Ireland and Spain declared their recognition of “Palestine,” in decisions that the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas terrorist organization welcomed.

The Religious Zionism Party leader also requested that the government revoke all VIP travel passes for senior P.A. officials and impose sanctions on those leading the campaign against Israel in international bodies.

At the same time, Smotrich announced his intention to halt the transfer of monthly tax revenues that Jerusalem collects on behalf of Ramallah, as well as cancel a waiver shielding Israeli banks with business ties to the P.A. from lawsuits stemming from charges of supporting terrorism.

The U.S. administration previously warned that these moves would lead to the collapse of the Palestinian Authority. However, according to local reports on Monday, Smotrich does not seek to topple the organization but instead wants to create a situation where it needs Israel to survive.

Ramallah has pursued numerous unilateral diplomatic steps against the Jewish state in recent months, in violation of previous agreements signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Last month, the U.N. General Assembly voted to give the Palestinians unprecedented rights for a non-member observer state, a month after the U.S. vetoed its request for full membership at the Security Council.

Ramallah has also pursued charges against Israeli leaders at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, resulting in a request by the court’s chief prosecutor to issue warrants for Netanyahu and Gallant.

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