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Pushback: Israel withholds Palestinian revenue, approves new settlements

The Israeli moves came in response to the Palestinians’ successful bid to be recognized at the United Nations as a state. 

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Palestinians wave flags as they celebrate their successful bid to win UN statehood recognition in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Sunday. Israel on Sunday roundly rejected the UN endorsement of an independent state of Palestine, announcing it would withhold more than $100 million collected for the Palestinian government to pay debts to Israeli companies.

Majdi Mohammed/AP

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government struck a $120 million blow to the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority today and further undermined its territorial claims, announcing plans to move forward with a controversial settlement that would effectively divide the West Bank in two.

The moves came in response to the Palestinians’ successful bid last week to be recognized at the United Nations as a state. After Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas received a standing ovation for a speech in which he repeatedly referred to Israel’s “racist, colonial occupation,” Mr. Netanyahu today characterized the Nov. 29 UN vote as an attack on Zionism and the state of Israel.

The Israeli moves caught many off guard, including some dismayed government officials, and caused some to sound a funeral toll for the peace process.

The rhetoric and threats underscore longstanding barriers to peace that persist even as the window for a two-state solution is fast closing, with both sides accusing the other of inciting hatred. But they also reflect the Israeli prime minister’s upcoming battle to win reelection in a country that has shifted significantly to the political right – even as he is mindful of US pressure to refrain from provocative initiatives.

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