Haaretz has reported that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned that the Palestinian Authority might “collapse” if Israel applies sanctions in a pre-emptive effort to avoid a Palestinian move at the UN in September. The meeting was held on Wednesday, and lasted four hours, Haaretz said. Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman did not attend, but some 30 political and military officials did: “in addition to Netanyahu, Steinitz and Barak, also present were Interior Minister Eli Yishai, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Minister without Portfolio Benny Begin and Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz … Several of the ministers urged preemptive sanctions against the Palestinian Authority in an effort to pressure PA President Mahmoud Abbas to back down, but Defense Minister Ehud Barak objected, warning that it could lead to the collapse of the PA. Haaretz learned that the discussion also dealt with possible Israeli responses following the vote in the UN General Assembly, which is expected to recognize a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders by a large majority. Among the preemptive sanctions discussed was a proposal by Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz to stop transferring the customs duties that Israel collects at its ports on the PA’s behalf. The PA is suffering a severe cash shortage and is having a hard time paying its employees; the taxes Israel passes over are used to pay the lion’s share of those salaries. F or this reason, Barak vehemently objected to the measure, saying it could lead to the PA’s collapse, which would leave the territories in a state of anarchy. Representatives of the Justice Ministry and the military prosecution also warned against taking such unilateral steps”. This report is posted here.
An editorial published in Haaretz on Friday said that “As the UN vote on Palestinian statehood within the June 4, 1967 borders approaches, Israel’s government is showing increasing symptoms of hysteria … [Recently] Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman threatened that Israel would revoke the Oslo Accords. This week Lieberman proposed severing all ties with the Palestinian Authority to preempt the wave of violence he says will erupt the day after the UN declaration”.
The Haaretz editorial, which can be read in full here, also notes that “It’s hard to think of a more dangerous and foolish move than destroying the PA and cutting off the livelihood of tens of thousands of security personnel and officials who depend on it for their wages. As Defense Minister Ehud Barak said at the debate, this move would lead to anarchy in the West Bank, making Israel responsible for the welfare of 2.5 million people”.