THE Israeli cabinet announced yesterday that it has decided to impose a range of punitive sanctions against the Palestinian National Authority (PNA).
The sanctions follow the inauguration of a Hamas government in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and the declaration by acting Israeli premier Ehud Olmert that the Palestinian Authority is now a ‘de facto terrorist entity’.
The sanctions include halting payment of customs duties Israel collects on behalf of the PNA, worth about $50 million a month.
Palestinians will be prevented from crossing into Israel for work, and Israel will impose stricter restrictions on Palestinian food imports and exports.
The newly-elected speaker of the Palestinian parliament, the Palestinian Legislative Council, Aziz Duaik, warned: ‘This is a faulty decision, and the Israelis must reconsider their decision.
‘It will only increase hatred.’
The spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, Nabil Abu Rudaynah, added that Israel’s decisions were ‘over-hasty’.
Opening the cabinet session, acting Israeli prime minister Olmert said: ‘It is clear that with a majority for Hamas in parliament and with the formation of a government under the leadership of Hamas, the Palestinian Authority will become a de facto terrorist entity and Israel cannot accept this.’
Olmert had earlier in the day ruled out all contacts with the new Hamas administration.
He insisted: ‘Israel will not hold contacts with the administration in which Hamas plays any part – small, large or permanent.’
Israeli officials had said last week they planned a series of measures to collapse the already battered economy of the Gaza Strip in response to Hamas’ electoral victory.
Earlier, Israeli aircraft killed two young Palestinians in a missile attack on the southern Gaza Strip.
Israeli military officials alleged the two victims were trying to plant a bomb near the Gaza-Israel security fence.
• Second News story
SADR REJECTS IRAQI CONSTITUTION
Militant Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has spoken out against federalism, rejecting the puppet Iraqi constitution.
He said at the weekend in a media interview: ‘I reject this constitution which calls for sectarianism and there is nothing good in this constitution at all.’
Al-Sadr added: ‘If there is a democratic government in Iraq, nobody has the right to call for the establishment of federalism anywhere in Iraq whether it is the south, north, middle or any other part of Iraq.’
Meanwhile, British Military Police have begun interviewing four Iraqi youths who were the alleged victims of assaults by British troops in 2004.
The interviews follow the publication of a corporal’s home video images by the News of the World, which led to more attacks and boycotts of British troops in southern Iraq.
The video showed soldiers beating and kicking Iraqi youths after a demonstration over unemployment in the town of Amara, southern Iraq.
Officers spoke to the four alleged victims and visited the area where it is claimed the incident took place, a British military spokesman said yesterday.
Three 1st Light Infantry soldiers have been arrested over the abuse allegations.
In response to the footage, puppet Iraqi officials in the southern province of Maysan and in Basra, where thousands have been demonstrating against the abuses, announced they are ending all cooperation with the British occupation authorities.