Israeli state officials said that Israel is considering "penal" measures against the Palestinian Authority as well as various steps against the United Nations Human Rights Council, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Sunday.
Last Thursday, the Council passed a resolution ordering a first probe into how Israel’s West Bank settlements may be infringing on Palestinians’ rights. The forum of eight ministers will discuss possible responses this week, the sources said.
The cabinet will reportedly consider freezing tax money Israel collects for the PA, as well as halting joint financial projects such as an initiative to grant 5,000 extra work permits for Palestinians.
It is nevertheless unlikely that Israel will opt to freeze funds. This option was last employed in November in response to UNESCO’s decision to upgrade the PA’s status. This prompted worldwide condemnation and Israel was forced to release the funds a month and a half later.
Israel has already decided it won’t be cooperating with the commission of inquiry and will apparently ban its members from entering the West Bank, as was done in the Goldstone committee case.
"As far as we’re concerned there is no moral or political validity to the UN’s inquiry commission," Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon said. "That is why we won’t allow them to operate here."
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel is considering boycotting the Human Rights Council or recalling its ambassador to the UN institutions in Geneva. However, such steps are likely to be employed only in the case that Israel convinces other countries such as the US to do the same.
A senior state official said this weekend that the Palestinians have harmed themselves by pushing for the establishment of the committee. Six of eight European Union states abstained in the vote on the resolution, the official said, exposing a divide in the EU’s stance on settlements.
Softening UN reports on children
Meanwhile, Israel is also working to soften a UN report on the treatment of children in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The UN’s annual report on Children and Armed Conflict includes a special chapter on Israel.
A draft copy of the report, which was obtained by Yedioth Ahronoth, levels harsh criticism at Israel. It accused security forces of trying to recruit Palestinian children as collaborators and warns of a rise in settler violence directed at Palestinian kids. The report also contains testimonies of 116 Palestinian children who were arrested and reported of solitary confinement and even beatings.
The Foreign Ministry together with the IDF and Justice Ministry has already succeeded in softening the report’s wording compared with past reports. The report now also addresses the Itamar massacre and the missile attack on a school bus.