The White House is concerned that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may be ignoring an imminent, new blowup with the Palestinians, according to the Washington Post.
U.S. intelligence reports have been warning that the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank and is a secondary partner to Hamas in running things in Gaza, is about to run out of funds come the beginning of March.
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The U.S. fears that this would spell the collapse of the civil service and security force in the West Bank, ushering in yet another crisis for Israel.
“This is a dangerous issue, ” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Friday. “Israel is withholding our money and this means that the ‘State of Palestine’ will face a crisis.”
According to the Post, the administration fully expects Abbas to dissolve his government if he doesn’t receive the money.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Monday to a conference of the Institute for National Security Studies in Washington that the Palestinians were bluffing. He used an Israeli adage, originally told about a coffee smuggler telling the customs officer it’s bird seed.
The officer checks the smuggler’s bags, discovers the illegal coffee and questions if birds would actually eat the stuff. So the smuggler says: “If they want to eat, they’ll eat. If they don’t, they won’t eat.”
“If they want to collapse, they’ll collapse. If they don’t, they won’t collapse, ” said Ya’alon.
The crisis has to do with Israel’s decision to keep the tax revenue it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, in retaliation for the Palestinian decision sue Israel for war crimes in the International Criminal Court.
Should tens of thousands of Palestinian civil servants once again have to go without their monthly pay, while Palestinian police forces are reduced for lack of money — it might turn out that sending them their tax money would have been the cheaper option.
Otherwise, well… Let them eat coffee…