Europe is ready to boost efforts by the Palestinians in the UN in general and the International Criminal Court in the Hague in particular, if efforts to renew the political process fail due to continued “settlement construction.” This blunt message was passed by senior European diplomats to the prime minister’s office, according to Ma’ariv.
The background to the reported threat is a feeling among some European countries, that the Israeli government’s recent decisions, especially the finalized plans to build 300 housing units in Ramot and Gilo in East Jerusalem, constitute a threat to the prospects of the peace process and undermine the efforts of Secretary of State John Kerry. the Europeans made it clear that continuing this policy would damage the EU’s support for Israel.
Senior Israeli officials told Ma’ariv that the Europeans warned them that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is expected to resume the Palestinian campaign for a unilateral UN recognition, if Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria isn’t stopped. They also threatened that Europe would increase efforts to label products made in the settlements.
Abbas has pledged to Secretary Kerry to suspend Palestinian moves at the UN until the U.S. efforts to renew the peace process have been maximized. Concurrently, Prime Minister Netanyahu pledged to curb settlement construction, but the Europeans complain that he is not keeping his promise.
The assessment currently prevailing inside the political powers in Israel, is that Abbas is not interested at all in reaching a permanent peace agreement. GSS (Shin Bet) chief Yoram Cohen believes that Abbas has no incentive to renew the political process, Ma’ariv reported on Wednesday.
The news about the Cohen assessment was received with predictable reactions in the Knesset yesterday, with the right saying they had known it all along, and the left accusing the secret police boss of trying to tilt the map in favor of the settlers.
Meanwhile, Israel’s foreign ministry has just issued a report showing that 22,500 Arabs are employed in the Jewish towns and villages of Judea and Samaria, taking home close to $275 million annually. It’s tough to get real figures on the PA’s GDP (wherever you look, you’re more likely to find optimistic predictions than real, hard numbers), but the generally accepted estimate hover around $4+ billion annually. The PA’s annual budget is about $2.75 billion, which means that 10 percent of this budget is supported by the Jewish settlements.
Also in terms of salaries – the average daily salary paid inside the PA is $23.73, according to the foreign ministry, while the settlements pay on average $44.72 per day.
This could be what sleuth master Yoram Cohen means when he says Abbas has little incentive to get rid of the Jewish settlements – they’re the geese that lay his golden shekels. And so, on the outside Abbas is all offended by the growth of Jewish settlements, but on the inside he keeps checking his bank account.