The Israeli government is using economic sanctions and other incentives to pressure Palestinians to leave the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem, a senior Israeli official told The Jerusalem Times on Wednesday.
The official said the sanctions target Palestinian businesses that import and export goods, while the government is targeting the Israeli economy as a whole, in order to make it more resilient.
The sanctions have been applied by the Foreign Ministry and the Israeli Defense Ministry, he said.
The measures target Palestinians who have been accused of smuggling or operating businesses in the West Bank or East Jerusalem that is in direct contravention of Israeli law.
They include selling or importing goods from the West bank or east Jerusalem that are not in line with Israeli law, or those that have been in violation of the agreements signed between Israel and the Palestinians, he added.
The Israeli official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said that the government will seek to impose sanctions on Israeli businesses in its area of jurisdiction, such as the Westbank, as well as on the West Jerusalem municipality of East Jerusalem.
He said the move was aimed at making Israel more competitive in the global economy, and at limiting the ability of Palestinians to compete for Israeli jobs.
“We know that these measures are aimed at squeezing the Palestinian economy, but also to make sure that we have a competitive Israeli economy,” the official said.
He also noted that the measures would apply to the entire West Bank, not just in Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem Post reported on Wednesday that the Israeli government has been applying economic sanctions on Palestinian businesses since 2014.
The measures have targeted Palestinian businesses, including hotels, retail stores and restaurants, for more than a decade, and have been effective in making Israel’s economy less competitive, The Jerusalem post said.
This is not the first time that the Netanyahu government has targeted the Palestinian economic sector.
In 2015, the government targeted several major companies that import goods from Palestinian-controlled areas in East Jerusalem and the West Wall.
These companies were then targeted by the Israeli military, with a number of cases in which Israeli forces raided the businesses and confiscated goods.
Israel’s economic sector has been particularly sensitive to any measure that would impede Israeli business activity, and the government has frequently used its economic sanctions to pressure businesses into compliance.
In July, Israeli lawmakers approved a bill to expand economic sanctions against the Palestinian Authority, which the government views as a terrorist organization.
The bill would also make it easier for the Israeli parliament to impose financial sanctions on the Palestinian government.