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Israel's Finance Minister Demands 'Harsh Punitive Measures' Against Palestinians After State Recognition

22.05.2024 16:57

Bezalel Smotrich intends to take immediate action to cut off transfer of funds to Palestinian Authority.

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich called for "harsh punitive measures" against the Palestinian Authority (PA) on Wednesday following announcements by Spain, Norway and Ireland to recognize Palestine as a state.

The three European countries said Wednesday they will officially recognize a Palestinian state on May 28.

In a statement, the far-right minister said he intends to take immediate action to cut off the transfer of funds to the Ramallah-based authority.

He said he asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to impose "additional economic sanctions on PA senior officials and their families."

"At the last cabinet meeting, many ministers, including myself, raised an unequivocal demand for harsh punitive measures against the Palestinian Authority for its unilateral actions against Israel, including its pursuit of unilateral recognition" and its support of legal cases against Israel in The Hague, Smotrich said.

The tax revenues – known in Palestine and Israel as maqasa – are collected by the Israeli government on behalf of the Palestinian Authority on Palestinian imports and exports and Israel in return earns a commission of 3%.

The revenues are estimated to total around $188 million every month and represent the main source of income for the Palestinian Authority.

The announcement of state recognition by the three European countries comes as Israel continued its brutal offensive on the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7, 2023 despite a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire in the enclave.

More than 35,700 Palestinians have been killed, the vast majority of whom have been women and children, and nearly 80,000 others injured since last October following an attack by the Palestinian group Hamas.

More than seven months into the Israeli war, vast swathes of Gaza lay in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine.

Israel is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, which has ordered it to ensure that its forces do not commit acts of genocide and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

*Writing by Ahmed Asmar -

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