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Smotrich threatens to topple PA if ICC, UN take unilateral action against Israel

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has warned that unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state by the U.N. General Assembly will result in an immediate halt to all transfers of funds to the P.A.

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich in Jerusalem, May 30, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich in Jerusalem, May 30, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich on Thursday threatened to crush the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) financially if certain unilateral actions are brought against Israel in the international arena.

In an open letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Smotrich warned that if any decision is made by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to unilaterally issue arrest warrants against Israeli citizens, or “a decision is made unilaterally in the [United Nations] General Assembly to recognize a Palestinian state, I will unilaterally and immediately stop the transfer of all funds to the P.A.”

Smotrich was referring to a recent Channel 12 report that the ICC was considering issuing arrest warrants for senior Israeli officials with the tacit approval of the United States.

Earlier this month, the P.A. submitted a request to the U.N. Security Council to accept it as a full member, a move Israel said would be a reward for terror.

Smotrich said that in the event of either occurring he would stop the transfer of all taxes collected by Israel on behalf of the P.A, and would also rescind the immunity of Israeli banks that have financial dealings with Palestinian entities.

Smotrich threatened the latter move in March in response to sanctions imposed by the United States on seven Israeli settlers. Israeli banks, fearful of running afoul of U.S. sanctions, also closed the accounts of the seven.

Smotrich’s threat appeared to work, as shortly afterwards the U.S. Treasury Department, in a letter to the Bank of Israel, clarified that the sanctions weren’t intended to include Israeli banks.

Smotrich’s letter also referred to rumors that the Biden administration is considering sanctions against the ultra-Orthodox Netzach YehudaBattalion.

In October 2022, Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) submitted to the State Department a Leahy Law referral against the battalion for alleged “systematic and widespread abuses.”

According to an NGO Monitor report from March, DAWN executive director Sarah Leah Whitson served as director of the Middle East and North Africa Division at Human Rights Watch (HRW) from 2004 to 2019.

“Working closely with executive director Ken Roth, she played a central role in HRW’s antisemitic obsession with Israel,” according to the report.

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