GS Paper - 2 (International Relations)

Israel's defence minister approved a raft of measures aimed at improving relations with the Palestinians on 29 December 2021 following a rare meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Israel. It was the first time Abbas met an Israeli official inside Israel since 2010. The two discussed security coordination between Israel and Abbas' Palestinian Authority, which administers pockets of the occupied West Bank.

What

  1. He approved “confidence-building measures” including the transfer of tax payments to the Palestinian Authority, the authorisation of hundreds of permits for Palestinian merchants and VIPs, and approving residency status for thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
  2. Israel collects hundreds of millions of dollars worth of taxes on behalf of the PA as part of the interim peace agreements signed in the 1990s.
  3. The tax transfers are a key source of funding for the cash-strapped Palestinians, but Israel has withheld funds over the PA's payment of stipends to thousands of families that have had relatives killed, wounded or imprisoned in the conflict.
  4. Israel says the payments incentivize terrorism, while the Palestinians say they provide crucial support to needy families.
  5. Israel approved residency for some 9,500 Palestinians. Israel controls the Palestinian population registry, and over the years its policies have left estimated tens of thousands of Palestinians without legal status, severely limiting their freedom of movement, even within the occupied territories. Israel granted legal status to some 4,000 Palestinians in October.
  6. The Palestinians seek an independent state that includes all of the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, areas Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war.