Ongoing budget talks in Israel have begun to coalesce around a scheme to unilaterally amend the Oslo Accords with a provision allowing the Israeli Defense Ministry to impose “tolls” on Palestinians in the occupied territories for allowing them to import and export goods.
The tolls would be justified, according to officials, because of the intense “inspection” process Israel puts anything that enters the occupied West Bank through. That this service isn’t requested nor desired by the Palestinian Authority appears to be irrelevant.
And while the Foreign Ministry did point out that the action would explicitly violated existing treaties Israel has signed, that isn’t the same thing as them opposing a plan to seize an estimated $80 million annually from the impoverished Palestinians.
Indeed, the scheme saw opposition primarily from Tzipi Livni, who argued that the unilateral move would hurt Israel diplomatically and damage US efforts to restart peace talks with the Palestinians.
That may be an understatement, as if Israel does come to rely on extorting money out of the Palestinians to solve its budgetary woes it will add a financial incentive to continue the occupation, particularly for the Defense Ministry that will be collecting the “tolls.”
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