Lieberman: Time to Take Back Our Money from the PA
Israel has been very generous with the Palestinian Authority until now, but that is about to change, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Tuesday.
"Israel is not willing to accept unilateral moves from the Arab side and anyone who thinks he will achieve concessions and accomplishments using such moves is wrong,” Lieberman said during a Hanukkah candle lighting with activists from his Yisrael Beytenu party.
"Until today we were very generous and we tried to work constructively with the Palestinians, but starting today we’ll behave in a completely different manner,” he added.
Referring to Israel’s decision to withhold taxes collected for the PA in response to its unilateral move at the United Nations, Lieberman said, "I hear people saying that Israel freezes taxes that are Palestinian money. We do not freeze any Palestinian money.”
“Until today we paid 700 million shekels in advances for salaries of employees of the Palestinian Authority and we paid another 900 million shekels while absorbing the costs of electricity and water that the Palestinians had to pay and didn’t. Overall this amounts to a billion and 600 thousand shekels,” he said.
"What we are doing now and will continue to do for the next four months is taking back our money, not their money,” emphasized Lieberman. “The advances we paid and the financial services that were given to them and for which they didn’t pay. The Palestinians can forget about getting even one cent over the next four months, and in four months we will consider what to do next.”
Lieberman also referred to Israel’s recent Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza, saying that “the quiet in the south since the end of the operation was achieved because the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza was hit hard and because the long-range Fajr missiles and bunkers were hit.”
"It is important that the world understand that if there will be another missile attack on Israel we will not settle for surgical strikes by the Israeli Air Force, and another missile attack will require a ground incursion and a takeover of all of Gaza,” he said. “The world will not be able to call on us to show restraint and responsibility again. We proved this time that we show restraint and responsibility when needed but if there is another missile attack, whenever it will be, this will be our response. It's obviously not simple and there will be a price to pay but we’ll have no other choice.”