Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the national police headquarters in Jerusalem, Thursday, 22 November, 2012 (Photo: AP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that a vote to upgrade the Palestinians' status to "non-member observer state" at the UN won't promote the creation of a Palestinian state.
"The decision at the United Nations today won't change anything on the ground," he said at a ceremony in Jerusalem. "It won't promote the creation of a Palestinian state, it will distance it."
Israel will not cancel any agreement with the Palestinians over the vote scheduled for Thursday for a "non-member observer state" at the UN, but rather uphold them "to the letter," an official said.
"We have no intention on cancelling any agreement, particularly in the economic field," Israel foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP. "What we will do after this vote is to apply the agreements to the letter."
Palmor reiterated that in applying for the upgraded status at the UN General Assembly, the Palestinians were "flagrantly violating the commitments they made to resolve the conflict with Israel through negotiations and not unilateral moves."
Israel had insinuated it was considering a variety of punitive measures in retaliation to the Palestinian move, ranging from freezing the transfer of tax and customs funds it collects for the Palestinians to "toppling" the Palestinian Authority, as one Israeli foreign ministry policy paper suggested.
But such unilateral moves would be contrary to the 1993 Oslo Accords, and weaken the Israeli claim it is upholding them while the Palestinians are in violation of the agreements that were intended to pave the way for a full resolution of the conflict.
An Israeli official speaking on condition of anonymity said Israel would not freeze the transfer of funds to the Palestinians, a punitive measure used in the past, but rather could skim off those monies to pay off debts racked up by the Palestinians.
"We could extract some of these funds to pay off the debts accumulated by the Palestinian Authority we hadn't taken until now," he said. "Arrears to the Israel Electric Company amounted to over $700 million shekels ($170 million/ 140 million euros)."
"Israel could also reduce the amount of water it supplies, since we supply the Palestinians far more than what the agreements necessitate," the official said.
Other proposed sanctions include a possible reduction in the number of work permits for Palestinians employed in Israel or Israeli settlements, or a re-examination of VIP travel arrangements for senior Palestinian officials in the West Bank, the official said.
Annexation of settlement blocs in the West Bank, as some rightwing Israeli members of parliament proposed, was not being considered, said the official.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas will bring his bid to the UN General Assembly and indicate his conditions for talks with Israel in a speech Thursday.
He is guaranteed an overwhelming victory in the 193-nation assembly even though the United States and Israel fiercely oppose the move and other major powers have their doubts.