JERUSALEM, Jan 8 (Reuters) – Israel on Sunday suspended a pass that facilitated travel for the Palestinian foreign minister in and around the occupied West Bank, as part of its response to Palestinian efforts to engage the International Court of Justice (ICJ). ) in the conflict. .
The right-wing security cabinet of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Friday a series of stepswhich also included the use of Palestinian money to compensate victims of attacks by Palestinian militants and the imposition of a moratorium on Palestinian construction in some areas of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Israel collects the tax money on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.
Israeli border staff confiscated Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki’s “VIP” travel card as he crossed from Jordan into the occupied West Bank, his office said.
An adviser to Israel’s Defense Ministry, which administers the West Bank, confirmed the move, calling it part of the implementation of the government’s decision on Friday.
In televised remarks to the Israeli cabinet on Sunday, Netanyahu said the decision involved, among other measures, “sanctions against senior Palestinian figures.”
“The Palestinian Authority has promoted an extremist anti-Israel resolution at the United Nations,” Netanyahu said.
The UN General Assembly, responding to an appeal by the Palestinians, on December 2. thirty asked the ICJ for an opinion on the legal consequences of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.
On Saturday, Israel’s Defense Ministry said the VIP cards of three other senior Palestinian officials had been revoked in response to their visit to a member of Israel’s Arab minority who had been jailed for killing an Israeli soldier.
Issued under provisional agreements with Israel since the 1990s, the cards facilitate travel across the Israeli-controlled West Bank border with Jordan and from Palestinian-ruled territory into Israel.
“The foreign minister will continue his work and diplomatic activities with or without the card,” Ahmed Al-Deek, Maliki’s aide, told Reuters.
Israel had confiscated Maliki’s VIP card in 2021 after returning from a meeting of the International Criminal Court. It was not immediately clear when and why the card was reinstated.
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, during a briefing with reporters, said he approved the distribution of some 139 million shekels ($40 million) of frozen Palestinian funds to victims of Palestinian attacks.
“There is no greater justice than deducting money from the (Palestinian) Authority that worked to support terrorism and transferring it to the families of the victims of terrorism,” he said.
Palestinian officials condemned the Israeli moves and said they will continue to try to rally support abroad.
($1 = 3.5028 shekels)
Reporting by Ali Sawafta, Nidal al-Mughrabi, Emily Rose; written by Dan Williams; Edited by Elaine Hardcastle, Emelia Sithole-Matarise, and Barbara Lewis
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