Israel rejects 'Palestine,' takes punitive action

Sunday, December 02, 2012 |  Ryan Jones

Israel's government on Sunday voted to officially reject last week's UN General Assembly vote recognizing "Palestine" as a sovereign state, and took several punitive measures such as withholding tax revenues and approving more Jewish "settlement" housing.

The resolution passed by the Israeli cabinet insisted that despite what a majority of the UN member states say, the Jews have a legal and historic claim in Judea and Samaria, and those territories will remain disputed.

"The Jewish people have natural, historical and legal rights to its homeland with its eternal capital Jerusalem," the resolution stated. "The State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people has rights and claims to areas that are under dispute in the land of Israel."

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz told his fellow ministers that he would be withholding more than $100 million in tax revenues collected by Israel on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in response to the UN vote.

Steinitz noted that the Palestinian Authority owes Israel an even larger amount in unpaid electrical bills, so he will put the money toward covering that debt.

Prior to the cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that he had approved the construction of 3,000 new apartments in so-called Jewish "settlements" following the Palestinian leadership's diplomatic effort to unilaterally wrest control of Judea and Samaria.

"Israel will not allow Judea and Samaria to become a terror base from which rockets will be launched into Israeli towns," said Netanyahu. Israel fully surrendered the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians seven years ago, only to have the coastal enclave transformed into a haven for terrorist activity and a launchpad for thousands of missile attacks against southern Israel.

Netanyahu indicated that he is still ready for a negotiated peace settlement that includes the real establishment of a Palestinian Arab state, but only after Israel's conditions are met:

"There will be no Palestinian state until Israel is recognized as a Jewish state alongside a resolution to end the conflict."

The Palestinian leadership has for years rejected Israel's demands that it recognize Israel as the one and only Jewish state and that any signed agreement mark the official conclusion of the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Netanyahu and other Israeli officials warned that last week's Palestinian stunt at the UN would severely complicate the ability to ever reach such final status peace deal, and would therefore indefinitely prolong the conflict.

Indeed, many believe that the Palestinians now have no incentive at all to negotiate, and, having been indirectly identified by the UN as a sovereign state under occupation, can now wait upon the international community to right that perceived wrong without giving any concessions.

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