9 January 2023 |Reference 03/2023
Within days of being officially sworn in, the new Israeli government imposed a series of punitive measures against the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Palestinians at large following the United Nation (UN) General Assembly’s formal request for the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to issue an advisory opinion on Israel’s prolonged occupation of Palestinian territory.
On Thursday, 5 January, the Israeli cabinet approved a series of sanctions against the PA, including withholding approximately $40 million of tax revenue that Israel collects on behalf of the PA per the 1994 Protocol on Economic Relations (also known as the ‘Paris Protocol’) and deducting from the revenues to payments made by the PA to Palestinian prisoners under Israeli custody and their families as well as to families of Palestinian martyrs in 2022.
The sanctions also included a moratorium on Palestinian construction in most areas of the occupied West Bank (Area C) and revocation of travel permits for Palestinian officials including Foreign Minister Dr. Riad Malki. According to Israeli media outlets, Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour, Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Ziad Abu Amr, Head of National Council Rawhi Fattouh, and Fatah Central Committee members Azzam Al-Ahmed and Mahmoud Aloul were among those sanctioned. On 8 January 2023, the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates confirmed that Israeli authorities revoked Dr. Riad Malki’s VIP pass as soon as he arrived in Palestine from abroad.
Lastly, the new government also pledged to pursuit punitive actions against organizations in the West Bank that “promote terrorist activity or any hostile activity against Israel under the guise of humanitarian work.”
These distinctly arbitrary decisions were no surprise, as the Israeli authorities are wont to use punitive measures, intimidation, and harassment as a means of punishing those who work to expose their crimes and to silence all voices demanding accountability and an end to impunity. It must be recalled that these measures come in the context of 55 years of illegal occupation of the Palestinian territory and amid grave and systematic violations of international law committed against its population which amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, including apartheid.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights unequivocally condemns Israel’s illegal punitive measures, which are a continuation of its policy of collective punishment against the Palestinian people. Simultaneously, we express our concern that these measures may prelude to undermining the work of the PA. Al Mezan also warns about the international community’s condescension to Israel’s new fascist far-right government, which openly plans to commit more violence against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line.
The international community must relinquish its inaction, silence and inability to hold Israel accountable for its violations and take immediate action to prevent Israel from committing further violations and crimes against the Palestinian people and compel it to comply with international law and end its settler-colonial occupation of the Palestinian territory. Al Mezan further urges the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and the High Contracting Parties to activate accountability mechanism and immediately begin investigating and prosecuting those suspected of perpetrating war crimes and crimes against humanity.
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