In a major break with its previous draconian policy, Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni, announced that Israel would begin transferring the tax revenues it’s been withholding from the Palestinian Authority. It announced the former policy when Hamas assumed control of the PA after its election:
Minister Livni said that Israel’s decision to move money to the Palestinians is the result of international pressure exerted on Israel, in wake of the developing crisis in the PA stemming from a global financial blockade on the Hamas-led government.
One of the main considerations that influenced the decision, Jerusalem officials admitted, was reports from Israeli missions across the world that the country’s image was deteriorating in light of the worsening humanitarian situation in the PA.
Minister Livni said Wednesday that she informed the Quartet’s ministers of her willingness to release the PA’s tax funds for humanitarian causes only.
In an interview to Channel 10, Livni said: “The images of a hungry child, or of someone rummaging through garbage bins, are ones it is very difficult to deal with.”
“I made it clear to the Quartet’s ministers with whom I spoke ahead of the meeting, that as we were not looking to punish the Palestinian population, the funds can be used to pay for electricity, water supply, hospitals, medical treatment in Israel, etc,” Livni explained.
“We are willing to have these funds used for direct humanitarian purposes, such as medicines and healthcare needs. Israel will not allow for this money to go toward paying salaries,” the minister stressed, adding that it was important for her to get the message through that “Israel has no intention of hurting the Palestinian people.”
You’ll notice in the list of things the funds can be used for according to Livni most are actually payments to Israeli vendors for Palestinians necessities like electricity, fuel and water. So Israel is really doing these Israeli companies a favor in resuming payments. But at any rate, this is still a better outcome than the previous horrendous policy.
And any statement from Livni that Israel does not intend to punish the Palestinian is bogus hogwash. Of course, it intends to punish them. Just as the IDF shelling of civilian population zones is meant to terrorize Gazans. The only reason Israel is relenting is because of the big fat black eye it’s getting in the world press through its punishing policies. Israel will go as far toward brutalizing the Palestinians as it can get away with and then back off once the PR starts looking hinky for them. But thank God they do have some considerations limiting their policies, even if they are not moral ones.
Here’s another specious statement from Livni on Israel’s willingness to talk to Mahmoud Abbas:
Turning her attention to the matter of possible negotiations with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Livni said she has no objection to meeting with the Palestinian leader.
There is no personal boycott on Abbas, Livni said. “I do not rule out the option of meeting Abbas. I will have no problem meeting with him. But the question is not whether or not such a meeting takes place. Abbas does not want to talk about humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian public, he wants us to engage in negotiations over a permanent settlement now,” she stated.
Imagine that, Abbas has the effrontery to want to negotiate with Israel for a peace settlement! How outre of him. Doesn’t he know of the conditions we’ve set by which we refuse to negotiate with him until Hamas salutes the Israeli flag and sings Hatikvah? Seriously, this bit of tortuous logic has to be exposed for what it is.
Haim Ramon, Israeli justice minister, gave Hamas a deadline beyond which he said Israel would take control of its own fate and borders:
The Palestinians’ moderate president, Mahmoud Abbas, of the rival Fatah party, has tried to persuade Israel to bypass Hamas and resume peace negotiations with him, but Olmert has made it clear that he is not prepared to negotiate with Abbas if Hamas doesn’t change its violent ways.
Hamas thus far has refused to renounce violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist, despite intense international pressure and the cutoff of hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid and Israeli transfer payments.
”Through the end of this year, 2006, there will be honest attempts to talk to the other side,” Ramon told Israel’s Army Radio.
”If it becomes clear by the end of the year that we really have no partner, and the international community is also convinced of this, then we will take our fate into our own hands and not leave our fate in the hands of our enemies,” he added.
Isn’t that convenient. Israel has a partner willing to negotiate. But instead it restricts itself to setting conditions for a different partner before it will negotiate with either one. Since when does Israel get the right to determine which Palestinian representative it will negotiate with? If the Palestinians agree that Abbas is their negotiator then what right does Israel have to impose conditions on Hamas, which has basically ceded the negotiations to him? It’s all a game of outsmarting and outmaneuvering your opponent so that you get your way without having to deal with him at all; all the while making yourself look good in the eyes of the world. It reeks and the world isn’t buying it. The only people Israel is outsmarting is themselves as this bait and switch maneuver only causes a negotiated solution to recede farther into the distance.