Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) arrives at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem Sunday. Israel said on Sunday it has suspended tax transfers to the Palestinians in response to their president's bid to forge an alliance with rival Hamas Islamists opposed to peace talks, (Reuters).
Israeli ministers and lawmakers call for the annexation of the West Bank to Israel in a direct retaliation to the reconciliation agreement to be signed between Fatah and Hamas.
Israeli Channel 2 revealed that the calls weren’t only propagated by parliamentarians of the far right, but also included important ministers in the Israeli government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu.
Channel 2 aired a voice recording of a meeting attended by Israeli Minister of Environment Moshe Kahlon and young leaders of the ruling Likud party where Kahlon said that an Israeli decision decreeing the annexing of the West Bank has become a necessary step following the Fatah-Hamas settlement.
He stressed that Israel is obliged to retaliate to deter the Palestinians from taking any action that could threaten Israel.
In the recording, Kahlon boasted of Israel’s increasing capability for settlement-building, citing that they built twice the number of settlements in the past year than the year before it.
Israel lays on the pressure, as announced on Israeli radio that the Israeli minister of finance, Yuval Steinitz, will stop transferring tax revenues and financial benefits to the Palestinian Authority as a punitive action for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ consent to sign an agreement with Hamas.
The Israeli radio reported that the Steinitz decision will prevent between 3 - 5 billion Shekels (up to $1.5 billion) annually from reaching the PA.
Steinitz told his ministerial staff not to attend the regular meeting with the Palestinian tax official on Sunday.