Netanyahu orders govt officials to stop cooperation with PA
Published Wednesday 09/04/2014 (updated) 09/04/2014 18:03
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu early Wednesday ordered government officials to stop cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, an official said.
"Israel government ministers have been told to refrain from meeting their Palestinian counterparts," the official told AFP, requesting anonymity.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted a senior Israeli official as saying that only "low-level field cooperation" would be permitted.
The move comes as an imposition of sanctions against the PA in response to the PLO's decision to apply to join 15 international conventions, the Haaretz report said.
Netanyahu's orders come less than 24 hours after US Secretary of State John Kerry pointed at Israel's approval of new settlement homes in East Jerusalem as an action that derailed negotiations, a charge that has left Israeli officials bristling.
"In the afternoon, when they were about to maybe get there, 700 settlement units were announced in Jerusalem and, poof, that was sort of the moment," Kerry testified to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.
The Israeli PM's decision seems to negate comments made by US and Palestinian officials about Tuesday's peace talks session.
"There are still differences between the Israeli and Palestinian positions, and the Americans are making great efforts to overcome the difficulties," a Palestinian source close to the talks told AFP.
A US official confirmed the latest meeting. "Gaps remain but both sides are committed to narrowing the gaps," he said.
Palestinian officials say the decision to apply to the international conventions was in direct response to Israel's failure to release a fourth and final round of veteran prisoners as agreed.
Peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians were relaunched in July under the auspices of the US after nearly three years of impasse.
Israel's government has announced the construction of thousands of settler housing units and its army has killed 60 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza since the negotiations began.
AFP contributed to this report.