Defense official sent warning to Palestinian minister sum will be deducted from the taxes Israel collects on Ramallah’s behalf
A Palestinian woman ironing clothes during the few hours of electricity supply that Gaza receives each day, at Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip, July 31, 2017. (AFP/ SAID KHATIB)
Israel has threatened the Palestinian Authority that it deduct money from taxes it collects on behalf of the PA, in order to cover the cost of supplying electricity to the Gaza Strip.
Already-limited power supplies in the coastal enclave have been further squeezed amid a spat between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority over who should pay for the power.
Israel made the threat in a July 17 letter seen by The Times of Israel. Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai told PA Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh Minister that due to the serious humanitarian considerations supplies must be restored one way or another.
Hamas, a terror group that has ruled the Strip ever since it ousted the PA in a violent coup in 2007, had refused to pay for Israeli electricity, claiming the PA is responsible for funding it, even as Hamas has spent millions on its military capabilities. In May, Ramallah reduced the amount of electricity it was willing to pay for, and as a result power supplies in Gaza were reduced to four to six hours a day.
The PA, which is dominated by Hamas’s rival Fatah, has since been cutting back some NIS 15 million ($4.2 million) each month from the NIS 40 million ($11.4 million) it used to pay for Israel for electricity in Gaza, part of a series of steps meant to pressure Hamas. Israel began to reduce the supplies in mid-June to account for the shortfall.
“I hereby inform you that if an internal Palestinian solution is not found, we will restore the previous situation and deduct the funds from the tax transfers in the near future,” Mordechai wrote and noted that he had warned Sheikh in the past that such a measure could be adopted.
“There are humanitarian red lines that, if crossed, pose the potential to harm, among others, the health and sanitation sectors [in Gaza] and ultimately the population at large.
“I request that you take action to resolve this matter so as to prevent the implementation of unilateral measures,” he said.
Mordechai’s unit, which is in charge of liaising with the Palestinian territories in administrative matters, declined to comment on the letter, which did not give a specific date for when Israel would start to deduct the cash for Gaza’s electricity bills and it has not yet begun doing so.
Under an economic agreement signed in 1994, Israel transfers to the Palestinian Authority tens of millions of dollars each month in customs duties levied on goods destined for Palestinian markets that transit through Israeli ports. Israel has imposed freezes on the transfer in the past, though the sanction has rarely lasted more than one or two months.
A Hamas delegation that this week visited Cairo met with heads of Egyptian intelligence to talk, among other things, about possible solutions for the electricity problems in Gaza, which have had serious consequences for residents of the Strip. Many of Gaza’s beaches are prohibited for bathing because Gaza’s sewage treatment plants have stopped working due to lack of power.
Head of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Yoav (Poly) Mordechai, and the Palestinian Authority’s Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh signed an agreement to revitalize the Israeli–Palestinian Joint Water Committee, January 15 2017 (COGAT)
Hamas has sought ways to circumvent the PA and increase electricity supplies, including by purchasing fuel oil from Egypt for Gaza’s sole power station.
PA attempts to pressure Hamas have also brought about a severe shortage of medicine and medical equipment in the enclave, a rights watchdog said in June, describing a worsening humanitarian situation.
Abbas, who opposes what he sees as a Hamas shadow government in Gaza, has said privately that he is tired of being Hamas’s “ATM,” and that if Hamas wants PA money it must cede power in the Strip.
Hamas wrested control of Gaza from Abbas’s PA in 2007 in a bloody coup, and years of reconciliation efforts have yielded nothing.
A leading Jewish human rights organization has expressed its relief at the defeat of Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari – the Qatari candidate for the post of UNESCO Director General who was tainted by antisemitic links – urging at the same time that “now is not the time for democracies to abandon” the UN’s cultural, scientific and educational organization.
BUCHAREST, Romania (JTA) — When the roof of the Jewish State Theater collapsed during a 2014 snowstorm, its director reluctantly knew it was finally time to abandon the century-old building in this capital city..
Following years of neglect by authorities, the Bucharest Jewish community had fought for decades to keep the storied theater afloat. The Jewish State Theater had been a major cultural institution for Central European Jews prior to the Holocaust. Later, during communism, it was the Romanian Jewish community’s only independent institution.
Audrey Azoulay (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)
The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) chose Audrey Azoulay, France’s former Minister of Culture, as their Director General on Friday.
UNESCO’s executive board voted 30 to 28 in favor of Azoulay, rejecting Qatar’s Hamad Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Kawari, who has been accused of anti-Semitism. Azoulay must still be approved by UNESCO’s 195 members when they meet in November. If accepted, she will be the second French head of the organization, the second woman, and the first Jewish director general of UNESCO.
I am a Catalan Jew. Even though I’ve been based in Chicago for more than a year now—I moved there, of course, for love—I’ve spent most of my life in lively and lovely Barcelona, a city in which antiquity and modernity walk gracefully hand in hand. Even so, work in Barcelona has been scarce and poorly paid since the Spanish financial crisis started in 2008. This ongoing event has contributed to the rise of the Catalan independence movement among other factors. I have witnessed first-hand how independentism went from being marginal to becoming central.
Dutch documentary about the beloved Israeli fiction writer, a cult favorite in Holland, opens at the 33rd Haifa Film Festival
It seems unlikely to have two Dutch filmmakers behind “Etgar Keret: Based on a True Story,” a documentary about the beloved Israeli writer and humorist, currently premiering at the 33rd Haifa Film Festival.
Yet it is their nationality that offers filmmakers Stephane Kaas and Rutger Lemm the ability to gaze lovingly and critically at Keret, known locally and internationally for his wry, humorous short stories and essays.
The “reconciliation” accord they reached in Cairo paves the way for creating a state within a state in the Gaza Strip. The Egyptian-sponsored deal does not require Hamas to dismantle its security forces and armed wing, Ezaddin Al-Qassam. Nor does the agreement require Hamas to lay down its weapons or stop amassing weapons and preparing for war.
This is a very comfortable situation for Hamas, which has effectively been absolved of any responsibility toward the civilian population. Hamas could not have hoped for a better deal. Like Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Gaza Strip will be permitted to maintain its own security force, while Abbas’s government oversees civilian affairs and pays salaries to civil servants.
A sigh of relief was heard last week from the New York Times to many newspapers and media outlets around the world, even in Israel, accompanied by a sneer toward the political right: He’s not a Muslim! Wow. It turns out that the mass murder in Las Vegas was committed by “only” a lunatic, Stephen Paddock, and one doesn’t have to be a jihadist to carry out a merciless massacre.
Reporters continue scratching their heads about what President Trump meant when he spoke of the “calm before the storm” recently as he was hosting a dinner for military commanders and their spouses. It seems clear to me that he was sending a powerful message to North Korea and Iran: change your behavior now or prepare to face new but unspecified painful consequences.
Most know the name of Israel’s famed spy group. The Mossad (“The Institute”) has helped protect Israel since 1949. Until recent years, the head of the Mossad was a secret. I well remember interviewing Ariel Sharon in 1998 at his office in Tel Aviv. After going through a maze of metal detectors, we waited in an outer room. Soon, a man walked down a hallway and stood before an elevator. He smiled and got on the elevator.
The New York based Center for Jewish History (CJH) remains embroiled in controversy weeks after it has been revealed that the new CEO, David N. Myers is an active leader of the New Israel Fund, If Not Now, When, J Street and other organizations that are hostile to the State of Israel. While Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP) has Myers listed in their propaganda as an academic advisor, he claims that this is inaccurate. His writings reveal hostile-to-Israel viewpoints, including the affinity for boycotts of Israel and sympathy for the Palestinian “Nakba.”