Palestinian Authority chief negotiator Saeb Erekat on Wednesday stuck to well-worn sound bytes when he slammed Israel's decision to freeze tax revenues to Ramallah and accelerate construction in eastern Jerusalem, Gush Etzion, and Maale Adumim.
“The they are building these settlements on is my land,” Erekat said. “The money that Israel is withholding is my money. This theft is happening in broad daylight and the international community is bearing witness.”
Israel's steps came after PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas' bid to join UNESCO was approved, despite his application for the UN to recognize a PA state based on the pre-1967 being rendered a dead letter in the 15-member Security Council due to a promised US veto.
“Our condemnation is unequivocal,” Erekat added. “These steps are illegal and amount to blackmail that we categorically reject.”
Israeli officials counter that Abbas' unilateral moves at the world body are a direct violation of the 1993 Oslo Accords, which proscribe unilateral moves by both Jerusalem and Ramallah – and serve as the very basis for the PA's existence.
All economic, ministerial, security and infrastructure agreements – including electricity, telecom service, and water – provided by Jerusalem to Ramallah are dependent on the Oslo Accords.
This includes the transfer of tax revenues to the PA, Israeli Finance Ministry officials note.
PA officials cite Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Conventions, which states any transfer of civilian populations to an occupied territory constitutes a war crime, as a means of calling Israeli settlement activity ‘illegal.’
However, Judea and Samaria (and formerly Gaza) are 'disputed territories' under international law, rather an 'occupied territories,' rendering Article 49 moot.
The last occupying power in Judea and Samaria was the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, which had invaded the abdicated British Mandate in 1948.
Israel's seizing the disputed region in 1967 resulted in its obtaining a broad swath of land that had no legal sovereign – and could therefore not be defined as occupied.