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Palestinian financial crisis at ‘breaking point,’ UN envoy warns

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Palestinian financial crisis at ‘breaking point,’ UN envoy warns
The Palestinian Authority’s financial crisis is at a “breaking point,” UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland told the Security Council as he called Israel to stop penalizing the PA for its terror payments.

“Donor support, including direct budget support, continues its multi-year decline,” Wennesland told the 15-member body at its monthly meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Estimates suggest that the PA will have a 2021 budget deficit of around $800 million. This would nearly double the 2020 gap,” Wennesland said, adding that the “borrowing capacity of the PA with the banks has been exhausted.”

He took specific issue with Israel’s policy of penalizing the PA for providing monthly stipends to terrorists responsible for killing Israelis as well as to their family members in what Israel has dubbed as “pay-for-slay.” Israel withholds the sum spent on terror payments from the tax fees it collects on the PA’s behalf and transfers to Ramallah.

“Along with other longstanding fiscal leakages that are contributing to the financial crisis, Israel continues to deduct millions of US dollars per month from clearance revenue transfers, in response to Palestinian payments to security prisoners, their families and the families of those killed in the context of attacks,” Wennesland said.

United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland. (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

He acknowledged since coming into office May, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had skirted Israel’s deduction policy by approving a NIS 500 million loan against future tax fee payments Israeli would collect.

That loan was “critical,” Wennesland told the UNSC, “but only delays temporarily the looming crisis and does not address the structural impediments imposed on the Palestinian economy.”

Wennesland called on both Israelis and Palestinians to implement policy reforms that would improve the PA’s financial situation. He also called on the 15-member Ad Hoc Liaison Committee which oversees donor funding to the PA to address the issue when it meets in Norway in November.

He did not mention the impact to the PA of the technical delay in annual European Union funding of some 140 million euros. Budget delays in Brussels has meant that the PA has yet to receive any direct EU funds and may not see that annual sum until next year.

British Ambassador to the UN in New York Barbara Woodward said she was concerned that the PA would not be able to pay its salaries in November.

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Preparing for war: Haifa mayor describes city’s infrastructure changes tensions in North escalate

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Preparing for war: Haifa mayor describes city’s infrastructure changes tensions in North escalate



Haifa mayor Yona Yahav spoke this past Monday with Lior Rosenfeld on Radio North 104.5FM about the escalation of the war in the North and his entry into political office amidst the security situation.

Yahav began, “I cannot speak on behalf of the North as I don’t know exactly what’s happening there. No one updates me, as if we are not the largest and most important city in the North. Tomorrow, the Home Front Command is coming to see us for the first time, and we will see what they have to say. We are doing everything to ensure that the city itself and our residents are safe and know what to do in case, God forbid, missiles fall on us. They are more accurate than those in 2006.”

Yahav also discussed the city’s preparations for a war in the North.

“We are now changing the entire method of building public structures,” Yahav said. “We are preparing them for prolonged stays. The minimum will be four consecutive days in shelters and such buildings, which require preparation. For example, installing toilets, which we don’t have today, and we have given instructions to build them in places close to where new houses are being built. This has been fully understood, and developers have begun to understand that the talk about evacuation and reconstruction has undergone drastic changes in light of the security situation. For example, road width needs to be maintained for the sake of evacuating residents on these roads. These are things that were not considered until now and must now be taken into account.”

Yonah Yahav (credit: ASLAN ABGANA)

Yahav’s plans for the success of Haifa’s future

Yahav then discussed his appeal to the transportation minister to stop the Highway 23 Carmel Tunnels’ toll charge.

“We called on the transportation minister to stop the discrimination. Haifa and the North are always discriminated against compared to central Israel, and there’s no reason for this. There are huge tunnels dug in Jerusalem that do not cost residents any money to pass through. There’s no reason why the tunnels dug in Haifa should include a toll. I speak on behalf of Haifa residents, and we are preparing to petition if we do not receive an answer.”

Regarding his entry into his mayoral role about three months ago, Yahav said, “I found a completely ruined city. They destroyed the municipality, and it’s very difficult to move things around. I don’t understand how residents sat idly by and kept quiet. We are trying to go to government offices to fix relations, to get funds, to move projects to bring in fees – and we are doing all this in a short time.

“The ministers are acting openly and with the goodwill to help. I am now waiting for the money on the table. The casino building in Bat Galim will be a luxurious hotel on the Bat Galim seashore. This neighborhood will undergo a complete transformation and will be the most beautiful neighborhood in the country. It will also be the only neighborhood facing a recognized beach. We came to make a change, and we will succeed.”

In conclusion, he touched on the issue of wild boars: “You won’t be able to follow them because soon you won’t see them anymore.”





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‘Psychological operation’: Turkey condemns FM Katz social media post depicting toddler Erdogan

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‘Psychological operation’: Turkey condemns FM Katz social media post depicting toddler Erdogan



Turkey’s Foreign Affairs Ministry released a statement on Sunday condemning a social media post made by Foreign Minister Israel Katz, in which Katz presented Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan as a toddler on the lap of Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. 

Katz, in a Sunday post on X, wrote “Erdogan @RTErdogan finances and arms terrorist organizations of Hamas to carry out attacks and murder against Israelis. The General Security Service captured a squad of students from Bir Zeit who were employed by the Hamas headquarters in Turkey to carry out murder attacks in Israel, through training and weapons and tens of thousands of dollars provided to them.

“Erdogan turned Turkey into a state that supports terrorism and subjects Turkey to the Iranian axis of evil in the name of extreme ideology and blatant anti-Semitism.”

Katz’s comments were made in reference to a recently thwarted terror attack planned by the student Hamas cell in Bir Zeit University, north of Ramallah. The attempted attack, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said, was directed by Hamas’s base in Turkey. 

TURKEY’S PRESIDENT Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, in Istanbul, earlier this month. Reports in the media suggested that this meeting was the result of a breakdown in relations between Hamas and Qatar. (credit: Turkish Presidential Press Office/Reuters)

Turkey condemns the social media post

The Turkish ministry responded “The Israeli Foreign Minister is trying to hide Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians behind a series of lies, slander and disrespect.

“Israel’s dirty propaganda targeting Türkiye and President Erdoğan, and psychological operation attempts will not bear fruit.

“The members of the Netanyahu Government, who have killed nearly forty thousand Palestinians in Gaza and are now trying to start a regional war in order to stay in power, will be tried in international courts and held accountable for their crimes.

“Türkiye will continue to speak the truth and defend the right of the Palestinian people to live in justice and peace.”

The ministry cited data provided by the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians. 

Additionally, Turkey has repeatedly asserted that it does not categorize Hamas as a terrorist organization – despite its western allies acknowledging it as such and its proven attacks on Israeli civilians. 





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ICJ: Settlements in West Bank, east Jerusalem are illegal

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ICJ: Settlements in West Bank, east Jerusalem are illegal



The International Court of Justice said on Friday it can give a non-binding advisory opinion on Israel’s ‘occupation’ of Palestinian territories, rejecting calls by Israel and a handful of other countries to refuse to give one.

The decision is expected to address the West Bank, east Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip as a single entity. 

The ICJ claimed that Israel’s settlement policies and exploitation of natural resources in the Palestinian territories were in breach of international law.

 





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