Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Wednesday that if a future Palestinian unity government between Fatah and Hamas will not accept the principles outlined by the Mideast Quartet, such as the recognition of Israel, then Israel will not transfer it any funds.
“Israel will not recognize it, will not negotiate with it, and will not transfer it even one dime,” Lieberman said during a meeting with the Foreign Minister of Montenegro, referring to the Palestinian Authority’s tax funds that Israel has been withholding for more than a month after UNESCO accepted the Palestinians as a member.
Lieberman added that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been mounting enormous pressure on the international community to push Israel into transferring the money to the Palestinian Authority, but at the same time actively pursuing a unity government with Hamas, which does not adhere to international demands to halt terror and respect the agreements signed with Israel.
“Israel will not transfer money to those who are interested in destroying it, and if Abbas will be Hamas’ partner then it is clear that he is not a partner for peace,” Lieberman said.
The principles outlined by the Quartet of Middle East peace mediators call on any Palestinian government to respect past peace agreements and recognize Israel’s right to exist.
Meanwhile, the Quartet’s envoy to the Middle East, Tony Blair, criticized Israel on Wednesday for not releasing the tax revenues. “Only those who oppose peace” benefit from withholding the funds, he said, calling on Israel to transfer them without delay to the Palestinian Authority.
European Union Ambassador Andrew Stanley also called on Israel to release the tax revenues. Stanley said that the freeze hinders the PA’s ability to provide services and maintain security. He said the European Union transferred large sums of money to build Palestinian Authority institutions, and their freeze is jeopardizing its investment.
Henrik Malmquist, head of the EU Police Mission for the Palestinian Territories, warned in a briefing that the Palestinian Police cannot function properly without the funds, adding that if Israel continues to withhold them it may make the police officers less inclined to combat terrorism.
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