-  Thursday 02 July 2020

US Steps Up Economic War on Palestinians, Abbas Urges EU to Resume Its Aid, Haniyeh Slams US Unholy Alliance


The United States on Friday stepped up its economic war on and gave a new green light to further Israeli military escalations against Palestinians under Israeli occupation since 1967, as President Mahmoud Abbas appealed to the European Union to reverse its decision to halt financial aid to the Palestinian people and his Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh pledged that his government will not give in to pressures and to endure its four-year mandate.

The US government on Friday barred Americans, unless licensed, from doing business with the new Hamas-led Palestinian government and blocked a UN Security Council statement urging Israel to stop its “excessive use of force” against the Palestinians, claiming the text “was disproportionately critical of Israel, and unfairly so, and needlessly so,” according to US ambassador to UN John Bolton.

In a memorandum obtained by The Associated Press, the US Treasury Department said that, “transactions with the Palestinian Authority by US persons are prohibited, unless licensed.” It said the decision had been based on “existing terrorism sanctions.”

The Treasury gave Americans 30 days to terminate ongoing contracts and programs with the Palestinian National Authority (PNA).

Non-US citizens who maintain contacts with the PNA could also face penalties, the document said.

Under the US Immigration and Nationality Act, foreign nationals could be denied a visa “as a result of activities associated with terrorism,” it said.

Treasury Department spokeswoman Molly Millerwise said: “Companies operating in the US are subject to US jurisdiction. Likewise, US companies operating abroad are still subject to US jurisdiction and must abide by US law.”

The Treasury however made exceptions for the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund , and the United Nations, authorizing “activities and transactions with the PNA that are for the conduct of ... official business.”

The new restrictions do not apply to business dealings with individual Palestinians and other entities in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

US Green Light to Israeli Escalation

The United States also Friday blocked a United Nations Security Council statement that would have urged Israel to stop its “excessive use of force” against the Palestinians, thus giving a fresh green light for further Israeli military escalation against them amid Israeli threats of more escalation.

The draft statement proposed by Qatar, the only Arab member of the Council, on behalf of the Palestinians would have expressed concern about the “indiscriminate shelling against the Gaza Strip, resulting in extensive human casualties” and called on Israel to halt “military operations and excessive use of force that endangers the Palestinian civilian populations.”

The Security Council will hold an open meeting on Monday when any of the 191 member states of the United Nations can speak. The council will also hold a monthly meeting on the Middle East a week after that.

Palestinian UN Observer, Riyad Mansour, accused the US of “shielding and protecting Israeli activities and aggression against the Palestinian people.”

“It was obvious that many of their concerns were accommodated but yet they kept coming back and coming back for additional things. It was obvious they did not want the Security Council to have a position,” Mansour said.

Mansour strongly suggested that the United States was the lone holdout against the statement, though he did not mention the US by name.

He referred to “one member who is shielding and protecting the Israeli actions and aggression against the Palestinian people in Gaza and in other parts of the occupied territory.”

Mansour said he believed more than 150 UN member-states would address Monday’s meeting to show that the overwhelming majority of UN members were “on the side of justice and international law.”

The PNA had called on the UN Security Council Monday to take urgent action to stop what they called an escalating military campaign by Israeli forces.

Mansour had said in a letter to the council that at least 18 Palestinians have been killed since last Friday and scores more have been wounded in a barrage of military attacks.

President Abbas called on the UN Security Council to put an end to the Israeli aggressions against the Palestinian people and Palestinian chief negotiator and legislator Saeb Erakat urged the United States to reconsider its position.

Spokesman of the Palestinian government, Ghazi Hamad, slammed the US objection to the statement.

“The American position gets uglier by the day, and reveals to the Arab and Muslim world that ... (the US) has no interest but supporting Israel,” Hamad said.

Abbas Urges EU to Resume Its Aid

Meanwhile President Abbas urged the EU to resume its aid to the PNA as his premier Haniyeh accused the United States of leading an “unholy alliance” to undermine Palestinian January 25 democratic elections.

Speaking to a reporters in Casablanca after a meeting with Moroccan King Mohammed VI, Abbas said the suspension of EU funding was unfair to the average Palestinian citizen “who has done nothing wrong.”

EU Foreign Ministers on Monday endorsed an indefinite freeze of direct aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian government, but will continue to fund health care, education and other humanitarian projects.

Abbas urged the EU to “go back on its decision to halt its financial aid to the Palestinian people.” President Mahmoud Abbas called Friday on the European Union not to suspend financial aid to the Palestinian people.

“The Palestinian people should not be punished for their democratic choice,” Abbas told reporters in Gaza last week.

By cutting the aid, the United States and European Union (EU) were “punishing all the people, workers and families,” Abbas added.

“We cannot say to the Palestinians that it is good to be democratic and at the same time we punish you,” Abbas said.

“The EU must find a mechanism to get aid to the Palestinian people, and at this time we are discussing such a mechanism.”

Haniyeh: US Leading ‘Unholy Alliance’

Palestinian Prime Minister Haniyeh said Friday that the United States is leading an “unholy alliance” to undermine Palestinian democratic elections, pledged not to give in to pressures and vowed that his government will endure its full four-year term.

“There are some who insinuate that this government will only last a month or two. I tell you this government will serve its constitutional term of four years,” he said. “We are keepers of the Palestinian rights. We will not betray them, we will not give them way and we will not back down.”

“The Palestinian people will not give up their government no matter how many sacrifices we have to make. We are prepared to eat salt and olives,” he told supporters in a speech after Friday prayers.

“The pressures and the threats aim to take away our strength and our authority so our powers will crumble. Our strength, our rights will not crumble. They will not succeed,” he said, referring to critics.

Haniyeh told the worshippers that God would be on their side. “Be reassured, be patient, be united,” he said.

“We are prepared to eat salt and olives, and we will not bow our heads, but to God almighty, because we are faithful and because we take our responsibility seriously,” he defiantly told supporters at the Gaza City rally. “We will not betray our people or back down.”

“We are not afraid of poverty,” he said, adding: “God will provide.”

Haniyeh told the Gaza City rally that its the duty of Arab and Muslim nations to provide the Palestinians with help.

“We are not calling for donations. This is the duty, the duty of the nation toward the Palestinian people,” he said.

As Haniyeh spoke, Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar arrived in Egypt on Friday, embarking on a fund-raising tour of Arab nations to help alleviate the financial crisis. Zahar's two-week trip was to include stops in addition to Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait.

Spokesman Ghazi Hamad told the AP the trip “is part of opening new windows and doors for the government, especially to get political and financial support. It is an attempt to break the international isolation” on the government.


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