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  1. #1
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    Israel Suspends Tax Money Flow to Palestinians

    Interesting problem here now for the US, Russia, Euro-Union and the United Nations. Will they allow Israel to dictate to them how things will go now or will they sanction Israel for going against their wishes?
    **********************************************

    Israel Suspends Tax Money Flow to Palestinians
    By STEVEN ERLANGER

    JERUSALEM, Feb. 19 — The Israeli cabinet decided Sunday to immediately freeze the transfer of about $50 million a month in tax and customs receipts due to the Palestinian Authority, arguing that the swearing in of a Hamas-dominated legislature on Saturday meant that the Palestinians were now led by the militant group.

    "It is clear that in the light of the Hamas majority in the parliament and the instructions to form a new government that were given to the head of Hamas, the Palestinian Authority is in practice becoming a terrorist authority," Ehud Olmert, the acting prime minister, told his cabinet. "The state of Israel will not agree to this."

    Although the cabinet decided to hold back on other penalties it had been considering, its move to withhold the receipts immediately put it at odds with its main ally, the United States, and the rest of the so-called quartet — the European Union, Russia and the United Nations — that has been promoting peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians.

    The quartet has said that its financing for the Palestinian Authority will continue until a new Hamas-led government is in place, a process that could take five weeks or longer. Even as Israel acted to cut off money to the Palestinians, the quartet's representative, James D. Wolfensohn, was in the Middle East talking with Arab countries in the Persian Gulf region to try to raise money for the Palestinian Authority until Hamas fully takes over the government.

    The State Department said it would have no comment on the Israeli decision.

    The Israeli move means that Mr. Olmert, in the midst of an election campaign, will not have to transfer customs and taxes for February to the Palestinians. He was sharply criticized from the right for having transferred the January payment, and if he had agreed to the quartet's timetable, he might even have had to transfer the payment due for March.

    The Israeli move means that the immediate shortfall of the functionally bankrupt Palestinian Authority will grow from what had been about $60 million a month of its budget to about $110 million. The budget largely goes to pay 135,000 workers, including about 58,000 in the security services. The salary situation has already become critical, with many members of the security services staging armed demonstrations in the past few weeks to demand their pay.

    Hamas says it will seek economies and other aid from the Muslim world, including Iran, to ease the budget situation.

    In Gaza City, the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said the Palestinians were already in a financial crisis. "Unfortunately, the pressures have begun and the support and the aid started to decrease," he said. "Therefore we are currently in a financial crisis, and we hope to overcome it month by month."

    Mr. Abbas went to Gaza City to meet Monday with Ismail Haniya, 42, whom Hamas confirmed would be its choice for prime minister, to ask him to form a government. Once Mr. Haniya accepts the charge, he will have five weeks to form a government, though he says he will need less time than that.

    On Saturday, Mr. Abbas, in a speech to the new parliament, said he expected a new government to accept previous agreements with Israel and to support negotiations with it — positions Hamas rejects. He did not specifically require an explicit recognition of Israel. Hamas is expected to move slowly for now, leaving relations with Israel in the hands of Mr. Abbas and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

    "We will start a dialogue with President Abbas and the other factions," Mr. Haniya said in remarks broadcast on Al Jazeera, the Arab satellite channel. He also criticized Israel's new penalties against the Palestinians, calling them "part of the continued Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people."

    The Israeli cabinet decided to hold back for now on other penalties that would have further serious effects on Palestinian life, such as preventing Palestinian workers from entering Israel or making it more difficult for Palestinian goods to be transported into Israel. Instead, the cabinet said it would urge the international community to refrain from all financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority except for relief aid, would seek to prevent any new shipments of arms or equipment to the Palestinian security services, and would "increase security checks" at crossings between Israel and Gaza.

    "These are measured and graduated responses to the swearing in of a Hamas legislature," said Raanan Gissin, an Israeli spokesman. "The point is to leave some ammunition in the magazine and give Hamas and the Palestinians the chance to assess the consequences of failing to meet the international community's demands."

    Israel and the quartet have threatened to isolate Hamas and cut back aid to the Palestinian Authority unless a new government complies with three conditions: recognizing Israel's right to exist, forswearing violence and accepting previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements, including the 1993 Oslo accords, which are predicated on negotiations with Israel leading to a permanent two-state solution.

    Hamas rejects those conditions, but is seeking wording to satisfy at least part of the world community, a senior Western diplomat said.

    But Mr. Olmert, in the middle of an election campaign, listed a much harsher version of those conditions than appears in the quartet's Jan. 30 statement of them. Mr. Olmert said relations with the Palestinians will be downgraded and receipts withheld unless Hamas "fully accepts the principles that the international community has presented to it." He listed the principles as "recognition of the state of Israel and abrogation of the Hamas covenant, the renunciation of terrorism and the dismantling of terrorist infrastructures (by adopting the road map and accepting its principles), and recognizing all understandings and agreements between Israel and the Palestinians."

    But the quartet statement did not mention Hamas, let alone of any need for it to abrogate its covenant. The statement said, "It is the view of the quartet that all members of a future Palestinian government must be committed to nonviolence, recognition of Israel and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the road map."

    Mr. Olmert's version appeared to be an effort to talk tough, even as some members of the quartet are beginning to discuss whether a Hamas acceptance in principle of a 2002 Arab peace proposal, long rejected by Israel, would be enough be considered a recognition of Israel.

    cont...

  2. #2
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    Re: Israel Suspends Tax Money Flow to Palestinians

    The 2002 proposal says that if Israel agrees to return to boundaries before the 1967 war, accepts a sovereign Palestinian state in the rest of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, and finds a "'just solution" to the Palestinian refugee question, then Arab states will "consider the Arab-Israeli conflict ended, and enter into a peace agreement with Israel, and provide security for all the states of the region."

    The senior diplomat speculated that if Hamas offered a longer truce and folded its military wing into the Palestinian security services, some in the international community, in particular some European countries, might give Hamas the benefit of the doubt in the name of preserving ties with the Palestinians and providing aid to an already poor population.

    Álvaro de Soto, the United Nations representative to the quartet and Kofi Annan's representative to the Palestinian Authority, said in an interview that the Israelis needed "to give it a chance — you may be wrong" about the consequences of a Hamas victory.

    "We've said that the review of foreign assistance will happen in view of the commitments of the new government," he said. "Let's wait and see when there's a government in place and a program that's approved by the legislature. Anything before that is premature. In fact, now is the time to influence them to move in the right direction."

    "We want to avoid massive punishment of the Palestinian people," Mr. de Soto said. "There's a plastic moment here, and the outcome is not predetermined."

    It is not clear whether Mr. Abbas and Mr. Haniya, in their talks, will be able to bridge their fundamental differences. But Sadi Krunze, a former Fatah cabinet minister, praised Mr. Haniya. "Haniya is not close-minded," Mr. Krunze said. "He can work with all the factions, and he can cooperate with the president."

    Israel has killed several senior Hamas leaders in recent years, and Mr. Haniya survived an Israeli airstrike three years ago on a meeting attended by top figures in the group.

    Mr. Haniya, a father of 12, lives in Gaza City's Beach Refugee Camp, where he was born. His three-story home, among the other cinderblock houses in the camp, is also his office.

    He has a degree in Arabic literature from the Islamic University in Gaza City and was a dean there for many years. Israel arrested him several times in the late 1980's and early 1990's, and he was deported to Lebanon in 1992 with other Hamas members, but returned to Gaza a year later. In 1998, he took charge of the office of Sheik Ahmed Yassin, whom Israel killed in 2004.

    On Sunday, an Israeli airstrike killed two Palestinians who Israel said were planting a bomb along the perimeter fence of the Gaza Strip, near Khan Yunis in the south.

    In the West Bank, Israeli forces fatally shot two Palestinians in the Balata camp in Nablus. Palestinians said the men were throwing stones at troops; the Israeli Army said they were planting bombs. [Early on Monday, Israeli forces in Nablus fatally shot a senior member of Islamic Jihad, The Associated Press quoted Palestinians as saying. The Israeli military said, according to initial reports, that Israeli soldiers had opened fire on armed Palestinians, killing a Fatah militant.]

    Three Palestinian teenagers from Bethlehem were arrested en route to Jerusalem carrying a pipe bomb, knives and homemade grenades. They told the police that they had been sent on behalf of Islamic Jihad.

    Greg Myre contributed reporting from Gaza City for this article.

  3. #3
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    Re: Israel Suspends Tax Money Flow to Palestinians

    Interesting thing about the Palestinian elections. Democracy is fine, just so long as the right people are elected. If the wrong people are elected, democracy is deplorable.

    This principle has been demonstrated repeatedly through US foreign policy over the past half century. Where democracy didn't suit us, right wing dictatorships have been an attractive alternative.

    It should also be noted that Israel has had several terrorists or members of terrorists groups as prime minister, which should put the Hamas election victories into a bit of perspective.

  4. #4
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    Re: Israel Suspends Tax Money Flow to Palestinians

    Quote Originally Posted by sojustask
    Interesting problem here now for the US, Russia, Euro-Union and the United Nations. Will they allow Israel to dictate to them how things will go now or will they sanction Israel for going against their wishes? .
    Huh? When has it been otherwise? I suggest you keep checking the weather report in Hell to see when sanctions may be imposed against Israel for ANYTHING.

  5. #5
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    Re: Israel Suspends Tax Money Flow to Palestinians

    Quote Originally Posted by dante
    Huh? When has it been otherwise? I suggest you keep checking the weather report in Hell to see when sanctions may be imposed against Israel for ANYTHING.
    Very warm and sunny. Blistering hot temps for remainder of week.

    No sudden cold fronts expected.

    :D

  6. #6
    umdkook Guest

    Re: Israel Suspends Tax Money Flow to Palestinians

    Quote Originally Posted by Yirmeyahu
    Interesting thing about the Palestinian elections. Democracy is fine, just so long as the right people are elected. If the wrong people are elected, democracy is deplorable.

    This principle has been demonstrated repeatedly through US foreign policy over the past half century. Where democracy didn't suit us, right wing dictatorships have been an attractive alternative.

    It should also be noted that Israel has had several terrorists or members of terrorists groups as prime minister, which should put the Hamas election victories into a bit of perspective.
    your words are incomprehensible. democracy is depolorable?? no one said that Hamas doesnt deserve to be in charge, they won their elections. people are saying they wont just turn over their aid money to a group that publically states their mission is to wage war against another nation. you are so close minded about the israeli/palestinian situation or anything Israeli.

    your definition of terrorist is the opposite however, its very open. im interested in the terrorist Israeli prime ministers. i suppose they will be zionists like Y Rabin and whatnot who fought for their country, then were given the keys. in that case, G washington was a terorist, U grant was a terrorist, T Roosevelt was a terrorist...these are some important and respected names, but i guess not in your book.

  7. #7
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    Re: Israel Suspends Tax Money Flow to Palestinians

    Like I said, kook, democracy is fine, just so long as the right people are elected. If the wrong people are elected, democracy is deplorable.

    your definition of terrorist is the opposite however, its very open. im interested in the terrorist Israeli prime ministers.
    I'll use any definition of terrorism you like. By any definition, "Israel has had several terrorists or members of terrorists groups as prime minister".

    David Ben Gurion - Resigned from public life after the "Lavon Affair" came to light, in which Israelis were sent to Egypt to commit acts of terrorism in an attempt to pin the blame on the Muslim Brotherhood.

    Menachem Begin - Leader of Irgun Zeva'I Le'umi, which was responsible for bombing the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946, killing 91.

    Yitzhak Shamir - Member of Lehi, or the Stern Gang, which was responsible for the assassination of Count Folke Bernadotte in 1948.

    Ariel Sharon - Known as "the Butcher of Beirut" for his role in the massacre of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of unarmed men, women, and children in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.

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