Israeli Cabinet ministers voted this week to hold onto some $100 million in taxes owed to the Palestinians, despite warnings from Israel's Defense Ministry that the measure could threaten the stability of the Palestinian government in the West Bank.
Israel stopped the transfer of tax funds as a "punishment" for Palestine being admitted into UNESCO -- the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization -- which was part of an unsuccessful attempt to be admitted as a state in the UN.
Israel believes that creation of a Palestinian state must be achieved through negotiations, and charges the UN bid is designed to bring unwarranted pressure on the Jewish nation.
Israel's decision to hold onto the tax money may come back to haunt it, since Mahmoud Abass's moderate Palestinian Authority -- which employs thousands of people -- has helped to prevent attacks on Israelis, and has won praise from Israel and the United States. Palestine's inability to pay these people -- due to Israel's holding onto Palestinian taxes -- may result in a loss of these security forces, and a significant increase in attacks on Israelis.
In any event, Israel's decision to hold some $100 million in taxes owed to Palestinians is a punishment that really has nothing to do with the "crime" of Palestine's new membership in UNESCO. It will, in fact, result in having a greater negative impact on Israel itself -- rather than Palestine -- because world public opinion will view it as an Israeli inhumane act of cowardice.
Moreover, it will not deter Palestine from moving forward to achieve "non-member state observer" status in the UN General Assembly, which it will most likely achieve.
In a similar scenario, the United States -- Israel's closest ally -- had threatened to end its funding of about 20 percent of UNESCO's expenses if it admitted Palestine. The U.S. threat obviously had no impact on UNESCO or its member nations.
This week's Israeli "punishment" of Palestine also will have no impact on Palestine, as it decides what action it will now take in its plans to become an affiliate of the UN General Assembly.
All in all, both the United States and Israel should know better than to try to buy off an organization or a nation, in an effort to force it to comply with their ideology, instead of maintaining its own.