Israel approves armored vehicles for Palestinian Authority

Israel approves entry of ten armored vehicles donated by EU on background of crisis between Israel and PA over tax revenues.

Mordechai Sones ,

Armored vehicle
Armored vehicle

The Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas has received armored vehicles from the European Union according to YNet. Israel approved the vehicle's introduction after years of postponements, on the background of the crisis surrounding offsetting tax money to terrorists' families.

The armored vehicles were brought into Samaria via Jordan with Israel's approval.

In recent years the Palestinian Authority has repeatedly demanded that Israel approve entry of armored vehicles, but their request was allegedly rejected time after time.

The last time PA armored vehicles aroused controversy was in 2000 when a paper published by the Ariel Center for Policy Research identified the PA armored threat to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, saying "Because the IDF limits yishuv self defense to small arms, the growing armor vehicle capability of the PA would render the assault troops it carries invulnerable to yishuv defenders. The IDF gate guards do not have anything to stop these vehicles. The standard sliding gates for all yishuvim would buckle under the impact of such armored vehicles, and many yishuvim lack even this 'obstacle' – such that the only thing separating between the attacker and the yishuv is a moving aluminum arm painted red and white."

The report went on to say that "The PA armored vehicle force is not capable of challenging the IDF, but would be unstoppable in a first strike on yishuvim. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that that is their purpose.

"Although it is possible to gain sudden entry into yishuvim by using commandos or even less prepared troops - as the examples of Ariel and Ofra show - armored vehicles provide a rapid capability to do so that ground troops cannot match." The report can be seen in the original Hebrew here.

At that time, the IDF justified PA armored vehicles according to Oslo saying Arafat needed them to protect his government from Arab extremist elements, while at the same time trying to deny their existence.

The current shipment of armored vehicles arrived at a time of crisis between Jerusalem and Ramallah around the law to offset terrorist salaries and the Palestinian Authority's stubborn refusal to accept tax revenues from Israel after it offset the Palestinian Authority's payment to the families of terrorists.

For more than three months, tens of thousands of members of the PA organizations have received half of their salaries because of the crisis surrounding the PA-Israel offsetting law. In the corridors of the security apparatuses, there was harsh criticism of Israel's policy, as the PA continues security coordination with the Israeli defense establishment while Israel conducts indirect negotiations with Hamas, allowing tens of millions of dollars from Qatar to be disbursed.

YNet conjectures that the approval of the move during this period is intended to soften the criticism and frustration in the Palestinian Authority and to maintain close security coordination.

About three months ago, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas announced that Ramallah would waive all the tax revenues it receives every month from Israel - about NIS 500 million - in response to the Israeli decision to offset the salaries of the terrorists.

According to the cabinet decision, Israel offsets the taxes it transfers to the Palestinian Authority on payments linked to terrorism. Prime Minister and Defense Minister Binyamin Netanyahu instructed the security forces to intensify the examination of payments to terrorists and their families and to update the frozen amount accordingly.

In 2000, the IDF repeatedly denied Arab armored vehicles in Judea and Samaria, apparently
intending to convince Jewish residents there that Arab armor would only threaten to concentrate on communities in Gaza. But evidence of attack preparations against yishuvim of Judea and Samaria continued to grow, as reports of PA armor in Ramallah and Shechem began to gain credibility despite IDF denials.