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Ramallah, West Bank — Palestinians see the upgrade as international recognition of the lines predating the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. They say this will then be the reference point in future peace talks.
President Mahmoud Abbas has pledged to restart the talks, stalled since 2010 over settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, “straightaway”, inferring he would drop a Palestinian precondition for a halt to the building work.
The top Palestinian peace negotiator told local newspapers on Tuesday of likely American and Israeli economic punishment should Palestinians win the upgrade.
Saeb Erekat wrote of contingencies including U.S. divestment from U.N. agencies and withdrawal of financial aid as well as the withholding by Israel of $100 million in monthly customs payments that the Palestinian Authority needs to remain afloat.
The U.S. could “freeze all or some of the funding for the Palestinian National Authority … put pressure on other governments to discourage them from providing support and/or reduce their aid to Palestine,” he warned.
Since last year’s campaign, the U.S. has withheld $192 million in economic assistance to the broke, aid-dependent Palestinian Authority and stopped funding the U.N. cultural body UNESCO after it admitted Palestine as a member.
Economic anxiety is on the rise in the West Bank following U.S. sanctions and an aid shortfall from rich Gulf states last year, leading to delayed public sector salaries and fuel price hikes which provoked violent street demonstrations last month.
The vote is set to be called on Nov. 15 or 29. Palestinian sources said the first date was more likely because it was closer to U.S. presidential elections on Nov. 6, giving Washington less time to organise a lobbying campaign.